New Delhi: When reports about the Kolkata Knight Riders deciding against retaining skipper Sourav Ganguly for the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League first surfaced, the initial reaction was that of disbelief.
It was impossible to imagine a 'home' team taking the field at the Eden Gardens without the 'Prince of Kolkata' being a part of it. KKR, fans said, will lose its following and the so-called off-field success of the team will be dented like never before.
Agreed that the Knights have not touched the heights of glory in the last three seasons, but to blame the skipper for that is not just being unjust, but even being foolhardy. A closer look, however, at the decision to put Ganguly back in the players pool looks like a stroke of genius from the Kolkata team management.
If they had decided to retain Ganguly, the franchise would have had to pay him Rs 1.84 crore. Instead, they can now buy him afresh for a much lower price as Ganguly has been put in Grade C by the BCCI that fixes his base price at Rs 92 lakh.
Ganguly's performance in the IPL has been pretty decent, both with the bat and the ball. The team though hasn't clicked together as a unit and it is more to do with the team selection and availability of the players than just big names.
And with the initial three-year contract for the players out of the way, this is the best time to overhaul the team while keeping the costs low.
The only other team that may seriously consider giving Kolkata a challenge while bidding for Ganguly is the Sahara Pune Warriors.
The former Indian skipper relishes a challenge and still has the ability to turn it around everytime a question mark is put against his name.
Also, Sahara may want to cash in on the charisma of Ganguly, who has even started getting crucial match fitness by playing for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy.
Ganguly too has said that he does not mind going under the hammer.
"My first choice will obviously be KKR, but yes, if the situation demands, I am open to playing for some other team. The bottomline is, I want to play the IPL because I think I have cricket left in me," he said.