Reputation over form: Big, fat deals for Rahul, Hardik as new IPL teams announce drafts

Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul will respectively lead the new IPL teams - Ahmedabad and Lucknow
Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul will respectively lead the new IPL teams - Ahmedabad and Lucknow.

KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya, irrespective of their latest form and fitness, have landed highly lucrative deals in the new Indian Premier League drafts.

KL Rahul has been below par with the bat and in captaincy on the ongoing tour of South Africa. Hardik Pandya has lost his place in the national team over poor performance and fitness issue. That had little bearing on their price tag as the two new Indian Premier League teams announced their draft players.

Hardik Pandya has been roped in by the Ahmedabad franchise to lead the side while Rahul, who had declined the Punjab Kings’ offer after leading the side in the last season, will spearhead the IPL Lucknow team.

The two new IPL teams confirmed their respective captaincy roles on Friday while announcing their three draft picks ahead of the mega auction.

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The CVC-owned Ahmedabad have picked Hardik and Afghanistan star spinner Rashid Khan for Rs 15 crore each while shelling out Rs 7 crore for young batter Shubman Gill. Their director of cricket Vikram Solanki, former England international, announced on Star Sports on Friday.

The RPSG group-owned Lucknow franchise have doled out Rs 17 crore for Rahul. They also signed Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis for Rs 9.2 crore and uncapped leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi for Rs 4 crore. The Lucknow franchisee took to twitter for the announcement.

Rahul has thus matched the highest IPL salary, received by former Rajasthan Royals skipper Virat Kohli, who has taken a Rs 2 crore cut this year while also relinquishing his position as the skipper.

Hardik this year will get a pay purse on a par with Kohli, who has been the benchmark for IPL remuneration.

The new IPL outfits had the option of signing three players – a minimum of two Indians and one overseas – from the pool of available players as part of the draft pick before the mega auction.

The Gujarat-based franchise has picked former world no.1 T20 bowler Rashid Khan as their overseas signing. The T20 globe-trotter has spent five seasons with one-time champions and has a wealth of T20 experience.

The Lucknow franchisee has signed former Zimbabwe captain Andy Flower as the coach with Gautam Gambhir taking up the role of the team mentor.

They will make the rest of their squad at the mega auction scheduled in Bengaluru on February 12 and 13.

The teams will complete their squad at the mega auction in Bengaluru on February 12 and 13.

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