Yuvraj To Leave Kings Xi Punjab
Kings XI Punjab's fortunes have hit rock-bottom in IPL 3 and it's an open secret that its icon player Yuvraj Singh is in a sulk.
It now transpires that his palpable gloominess and poor form is not so much a result of his differences with the new captain Kumar Sangakkara as his desire to leave the Punjab team which had led to a row between him and the franchisee even before the tournament started.
TOI has learnt that the problems emerged sometime last December when the IPL trading window opened, at around the time the Ness Wadia co-owned franchise announced that Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara would replace Yuvraj as the Kings XI skipper.
Yuvraj, according to well-placed sources, approached Wadia and expressed a desire to leave the franchise, and some quarters suggest a move to Mumbai Indians was on the anvil.
Wadia, reluctant to part with the team's most expensive and popular face, flatly refused and expressed fears to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that Yuvraj's reluctance could spill over on to the field, and that the batsman might deliberately underperform if asked to stay back. Sources say BCCI officials subsequently had a word with the player.
This year, Yuvraj has scored only 101 runs from seven games at an average of 14.42, and the team's sole win till now has come via a Super Over eliminator in a game in which he scored 43, his best score yet in IPL 3.
However, it might be a stretch to imply one of India's best cricketers is deliberately throwing his wicket away, as Yuvraj has a swashbuckling batting style prone to inconsistency, especially if his mind is not focussed.
His poor form, though, has only fuelled aggravation among the team's owners. It has also fuelled talk of a rift between him and his captain Sangakkara.
Interestingly, the other major controversy of the tournament, involving a ban on young talent Ravindra Jadeja, was also because of a transfer move to the Mumbai Indians, which had approached the player.
This time too, it seems Mumbai Indians' financial clout may have led to a few bruised egos. For Yuvraj, the only way to squeeze himself out of this tough situation is to let his bat do the talking.
Kings XI take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday and Thursday's practice session in Mohali was spent parrying questions.
An upset Yuvraj told mediapersons: "It's not right. The media can't write negative things about a player just because he's out of form. Writing that two senior players are not on good terms without any basis is not done. Whatever is being written and said is wrong."
Sangakara too backed the player, saying: "Yuvraj is arguably one of the best T20 batsmen in the world. Such stories of a rift come to the fore when a team is not doing well. All of us are disappointed with the string of defeats. It's also a fact that most key players are yet to live up to their reputation. But that doesn't mean there's a rift. Yuvraj is a proven player and will come good soon."
Sangakkara said: "I don't think any cricketer should be like a prisoner at his own home. Everyone has a lot of individuality and uniqueness. Yuvraj Singh has not changed one bit since he came in to the IPL."