Ravichandran Ashwin reckons Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings could be willing the break the bank on Shahrukh Khan.

Ravichandran Ashwin expects great things from Shahrukh Khan(AFP)

The latest set of IPL releases and retentions has caused quite the stir not only among fans but also the franchises. While Hardik Pandya’s trade from Gujarat Titans to Mumbai Indians has clearly emerged as the biggest takeaway, developments such as Chennai Super Kings letting go Ben Stokes and news of Harry Brook and Jofra Archer heading their separate ways indicates a paradigm shift in IPL history where player trade-offs are becoming the norm. A total of 89 players have been released, as revealed during the official IPL retention show on Sunday, with MI and Kolkata Knight Riders being the two teams with the most releases.

On the other hand, Punjab Kings have had the least number of releases, with contracts of only five players discontinued. Of them is Shahrukh Khan, whom they purchased for ₹9 crore at the IPL 2022 mega-auction that ran for two days. Expected to be a game-changer, Shahrukh’s numbers thought were pretty underwhelming. In two seasons with PBKS, the big-hitting all-rounder scored 117 and 156 runs respectively in 2022 and 2023 with not even a single half-century to show for his efforts. His best was an unbeaten 41 off 23 balls against Rajasthan Royals which came in a losing cause.

However, despite a lacklustre outing earlier this year, India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin expects franchises to break the bank for Shahrukh and feels the Tamil Nadu all-rounder could be in GT’s radar after losing Hardik. Shahrukh is certainly not a like-for-like replacement for Hardik but given his range of hitting, the 28-year-old could well hit the jackpot with Gujarat, reckons Ashwin.

“I can definitely see a war between CSK and Gujarat for Shahrukh Khan. Gujarat have let go of Hardik Pandya, Gujarat needs a player who can finish the innings, a sort of power player. And they need a power player. Shahrukh was at ₹9 crore At Kings, and I though he showed his skills pretty well. Is it a decent release? Because I think he might end up going for ₹12-13 crore again,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.

Ashwin expects a strong bidding war between GT and CSK for acquiring Shahrukh. The five-time champions have let go of eight players, including all-rounders Stokes and Kyle Jamieson. With Ambati Rayudu also parting ways, CSK could benefit from a robust Indian presence contributing with both bat and ball. And with MS Dhoni, known for extracting the best from talented players, as captain, Shahrukh’s gift could reach its full potential.

“CSK might even take a chance of missing out on Mitchell Starc to get Shahrukh Khan because they don’t have a local player or a presence. They went for Shahrukh Khan in the mega auction, and that’s why I’m guessing so,” added Ashwin.