Mumbai: Contrary to earlier reports on Wednesday, CNN-IBN has reliably learned that Harbhajan Singh will not be released from the Mumbai Indians squad. There had been talk within BCCI circles on Tuesday evening that Harbhajan, 32, would be offloaded ahead of the 2013 IPL season as a cost-cutting measure but a well-placed source has confirmed that he will stay on with the Reliance-owned franchise.
Dropping Harbhajan, who captained Mumbai to the Champions League Twenty20 title in 2011 in Sachin Tendulkar's absence, would have allowed the franchise to go into the IPL players’ auction next week with a substantial purse. Mumbai had already exceeded the players’ salary cap, but after a day of hectic backroom negotiations it was decided that Harbhajan would not be released for the sixth season of the IPL.
The deadline for franchises to submit a list of players they wish to retain ahead of the IPL trading window and player auction is October 31.
Harbhajan was off colour in this year’s edition in South Africa recently where Mumbai failed to win a single match while defending their title. He had been purchased by the Mumbai owners for US$850,000 at the first IPL auction in 2008. In 2010, ahead of speculation whether teams would be allowed to retain players ahead of the fourth season of the IPL, Harbhajan had spoken of how player retention was crucial for fan loyalty. He was subsequently retained by Mumbai for the 2011 and 2012 IPL seasons.
In all, Harbhajan played 77 matches for Mumbai from which he taken 66 wickets at an average of 26.89, with a best of 5 for 18.