The two new franchises of the Indian Premier League (IPL) — Ahmedabad and Lucknow — on Friday officially revealed their draft picks ahead of the upcoming mega auction on February 12 and 13.
The announcement was made by the owners and officials of the teams via Star Sports — the official broadcaster of the league — after the end of the second ODI match between India and South Africa in Paarl.
The CVC Capital, owners of Ahmedabad picked Hardik Pandya (Rs 15 crore), Rashid Khan (Rs 15 crore), and Shubman Gill (Rs 8 crore) in their team. All-rounder Hardik will also lead the team in this IPL season.
“@hardikpandya7 is all set to star as the Captain of #TeamAhmedabad! Joining him would be @ShubmanGill and @rashidkhan_19,” tweeted Star Sports along with the video featuring Pandya, who thanked the management for showing faith in him.
While Hardik played for Mumbai Indians (MI) till last season, Rashid and Gill have represented Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL.
Vikram Solanki, who resigned as Surrey’s head coach with immediate effect, earlier in the day, has joined the Ahmedabad team in the IPL as its Director of Cricket. Gary Kirsten will serve as the mentor of the franchise while Ashish Nehra has been appointed as the head coach. The trio have previously worked together with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2019.
Meanwhile, Lucknow picked KL Rahul (Rs 17 crore), Marcus Stoinis (Rs 9.2 crore), and Ravi Bishnoi (Rs 4 crore) in their team.
“We wanted the best and we didn’t settle for less,” tweeted the Lucknow team along with the pictures of all three players.
Rahul, who is leading India in the ongoing ODI series in South Africa, will also captain the Lucknow side, which was bought for Rs 7,090 crore (USD 940 million approx.) last October by the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group.
After starting his IPL career in 2013 when he was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rahul went to Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014, and was traded back to Royal Challengers in 2016 before the Punjab franchise (then Kings XI Punjab) paid Rs 11 crore to buy him in the 2018 auction.
The 29-year-old has been one of the most consistent batters in the IPL since 2018. The opener led Punjab Kings in the last two seasons but he wanted a change and was subsequently released by the management.
Meanwhile, Lucknow will be the fourth IPL franchise for Stoinis. The Australian had started his IPL journey in 2015 with Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), where he returned in 2020 after being bought for INR 4.8 crore.
On the other hand, Bishnoi was picked by Punjab in the 2020 auction for Rs 2 crore. The spinner was left by the franchise before this season. Andy Flower has already been appointed as the head coach of the Lucknow franchise while former India batter Gautam Gambhir will serve as the mentor.
With both the new teams finalising their players, the focus now shifts to the mega auction, which is scheduled for February 12 and 13 in Bengaluru.