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Sanjiv Goenka, the man who removed Dhoni as IPL captain

October 26, 2021 06:24 IST

IMAGE: Then Rising Pune Supergiant owner Sanjiv Goenka with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore looks on during a match in IPL 2016. Photograph: BCCI

Businessman Sanjiv Goenka, who bought the Lucknow franchise for a whopping Rs 7,090 crore (Rs 70.90 billion) on Monday, October 25, 2021, is not new to the Indian Premier League.

Kolkata-based Goenka was part of the T20 cricket extravaganza for two years, in 2016 and 2017, when he owned the Rising Pune Supergiants.

Pune and the Gujarat Lions replaced the Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, who were banned for two years because of betting activities of some franchise officials.

Goenka's RP-SG Group had bought the Pune team for Rs 16 crore (Rs 160 million) for a two-year period in 2015. He also owns football franchise Atletico de Kolkata, which is part of the Indian Super League.

While Goenka, who was desperate to return to the IPL, successfully bagged the Lucknow franchise, international equity investment firm CVC Capital won the bid for Ahmedabad with a Rs 5,625 crore (Rs 56.25 billion) offer as BCCI unveiled the new IPL teams in Dubai on Monday.

The addition of the two new teams will make IPL a 10-team affair from next year onwards.

Goenka is famously remembered for dropping Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain.

After a disappointing showing in its maiden IPL season, when they finished second last in 2016, Dhoni was replaced as Rising Pune Supergiants skipper by Steve Smith, under whom the team reached the final in 2017.

Asked about the backlash he faced after dropping Dhoni as skipper, Goenka told India Today in 2017: 'I am one of the biggest fans of Dhoni. He has a great mind and he is a great leader and over the last 14 months that I have got to know him I have started admiring him more as an individual as well.'

'It was a difficult decision to remove Dhoni. We wanted to have a younger person lead the side and Steve Smith has actually done a good job as captain of Australia, he has been captaining for last 20 months or maybe slightly more. Australia were quite low and he has built the team up and he has done a good job,' Goenka had added.

Harsh Goenka, Sanjiv Goenka's elder, Mumbai-based brother, had taken a pot shot at the critics slamming the Goenkas after Smith had played a match-winning knock for Pune.

'#RPSvMI Smith proves who's the king of the jungle. Overshadows Dhoni totally. Captains innings. Great move to appoint him as captain,' Harsh Goenka tweeted before he deleted the tweet.

An angry Sakshi Singh Dhoni retorted to the elder Goenka's tweet with a picture on social media, which said, 'When a bird is alive, it eats ants. When the bird is dead, ants eat the bird. Time and circumstances can change at any time. Don't devalue or hurt anyone in life. You may be powerful today, but remember, time is more powerful than you. One tree makes a million match sticks but only one match is needed to burn a million trees. So be good and do good.'

Dhoni was not to be denied. He returned to Chennai Super Kings the following year, after the franchise was reinstated after the two-year ban, and surprised one and all by guiding them to the 2018 IPL title.

CSK finished runners up to Mumbai Indians in 2019 before going on to win their fourth IPL earlier this month.