Pulling back

Even during the posturing and the tough-talking that the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Sahara Group indulged in in the aftermath of the latter withdrawing its sponsorship of the national team and pulling out as an IPL franchise owner, it was always on the cards that an amicable settlement would be found sooner rather later. For all the obvious bones of contention, things had never deteriorated to mud-slinging from either side. All it needed for a relationship that had lasted more than a decade was a gentle nudge here, a firm push there and a desire from both parties concerned to meet halfway, which is exactly what has happened. By having got Shashank Manohar, its non-controversial former president, to mediate on its behalf, the BCCI pulled off a huge coup and  Manohar did the required job.

It helped, too, that Shah Rukh Khan, owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, offered his services to ensure Sahara head honcho Subrata Roy was made to feel not just welcome but also important. As a result of hectic parleying over the last two weeks, dating back to February 4 when, without warning, Sahara not just pulled out of the IPL V auction but also announced its decision to part ways with the Indian team, we are now in a situation where IPL V will go ahead with nine teams and Sahara will continue to remain sponsors of the national side – for the time being, at least.

A few grey areas still need to be addressed, primary among them the Pune Warriors’ desire to play five overseas pros in the absence of Yuvraj Singh. Having shot that move down at its working committee meeting earlier in the week, the BCCI issued a statement on Thursday saying it had no problems so long as other franchises were happy to allow the Pune Warriors to field the extra overseas professional. All indications are that, with Yuvraj’s illness providing the sentimental chord, Shah Rukh will be able to convince the other team owners of the need to express solidarity with and extend support to the Warriors. Of course, Shah Rukh’s mediatory role isn’t unlikely to come without a price. For a while now, IPL owners have been clamouring for a place in the Governing Council. Shah Rukh’s placatory hand in ending a potentially devastating stand-off might be just the tonic the owners require to pitch for their demands, again.

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