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Rahul Dravid may part ways with Vijay Mallya

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Not strange but too soon MUMBAI: The Vijay Mallya-owned IPL franchise — Royal Challengers — is likely to receive a jolt as its 'icon' player and skipper Rahul Dravid is believed to have expressed interest in parting ways with Mr Mallya for the league's second season. Dravid, according to insiders in the franchise as well as BCCI, is unhappy with the way the team management has dealt with the players. "I have had no discussion with Rahul Dravid, but he is performing well personally which I am pleased about. The other players also need to play to their abilities," Mr Mallya told Economic Times. When contacted, Dravid told ET: "I have nothing to say at this stage." A senior BCCI official said that Dravid has had an informal discussion with board officials on his exit from Royal Challengers. "There is an issue with Dravid, as he is unhappy with his team, and post the first IPL season, we will have to look into the matter." However, the divorce may not come that easy for Dravid, considering the three-year contract he has inked with the franchise. Also, considering the fact that icon players are home-bound for the first three years of IPL, and will not be a part of the player-trading window that opens next year, any separation becomes much more complicated. If sources within the UB group are to be believed, Mr Mallya himself is keen on introducing a drastic change in team dynamics next year, and hence, Dravid's exit, if it happens, may be by mutual agreement. A detailed conversation with one of Dravid's aides revealed that he was looking at discussing the situation with BCCI after the season ends and examine the various options available to him. One of them could even be retiring from IPL to focus on 50-over One dayers and Test cricket. The other option is to join another franchise. However, it is unlikely that another franchise will match the player's current remuneration. If Dravid does transfer himself to another franchise, it may be at a lower salary. Dravid, being the 'icon' player, is currently paid $1,035,000 per season, which is 15% more than the highest bid player in the team who is South Africa's Jacques Kallis at $900,000. Any divorce will also mean that Dravid will have to let go of the moolah, which otherwise is guaranteed for the next two seasons. However, experts pointed out that for a cricketer of his stature, money alone may not be motivation enough to continue playing for a team he is uncomfortable with. The Bangalore franchise was bought by Mr Mallya for $111.6 million, making it the second-most expensive franchise in the IPL. However, Mr Mallya has neither managed to monetise his franchise via sponsorships nor has his team performed, and in all likelihood will end the IPL season at the bottom of the stack.

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