In what could be a seismic shift in IPL dynamics, Mumbai Indians are actively engaged in discussions to bring back Hardik Pandya, signaling a potential blockbuster trade that could reshape the league’s landscape. Reliable sources from ESPNcricinfo reveal that Mumbai Indians are prepared to shell out a substantial all-cash deal, encompassing a hefty INR 15 crore ($1.8 million approx.) for Hardik’s salary, coupled with an undisclosed transfer fee to the current franchise, Gujarat Titans. The rumored transaction, speculated to be the most significant player trade in IPL history, hinges on Mumbai’s ability to augment their purse, which, after the recent auction, dwindled to a mere INR 0.05 crore ($6000 approx.). With the retention deadline looming on November 26 at 4 pm IST, Mumbai faces the challenge of releasing players to facilitate the high-profile acquisition of Hardik Pandya.
Hardik, who steered the Titans to their debut IPL title in 2022 and secured the Player of the Match accolade in the final against Rajasthan Royals, could be on the verge of a historic return to the Mumbai Indians. His leadership propelled the Titans to the top of the points table in both the 2022 and 2023 seasons, reaching the final on both occasions. During his two-season stint at Titans, Hardik showcased his prowess, amassing 833 runs in 30 innings with an average of 41.65 and a strike rate of 133.49. His all-round contribution included 11 wickets at an economy of 8.1. The twist in the tale is that Hardik is presently sidelined due to an ankle injury sustained during India’s ODI World Cup campaign.
Should this trade materialize, it would mark a historic moment in IPL history, making Hardik Pandya only the third captain to be traded, following R Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane in 2020. The genesis of Hardik’s IPL journey was with the Mumbai Indians in 2015, where he evolved into one of the game’s premier allrounders. Bought for a humble INR 10 lakhs as an uncapped player, Hardik was an integral part of Mumbai’s title-winning campaigns in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020. Despite being retained by Mumbai ahead of each auction until 2021, he was surprisingly released before the 2022 mega auction, allowing the Titans to secure him as their captain. Now, as Mumbai Indians seek to rekindle their association with the talismanic allrounder, the cricketing world awaits the outcome of this potential game-changing move.