Sunil Gavaskar and Kochi IPL

Sunil Gavaskar and Kochi IPLFinally, it's out in the open. Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is the 'big player' who had helped the Kochi franchise pulls off a stunning coup in the controversial Indian Premier League auction.

Rendezvous Sports World Pvt Ltd (RSWPL), which got a bunch of disparate investors together and masterminded the entire exercise, confirmed this to TOI on Monday.

The Gaikwad family, which owns RSWPL and commands 25% free equity and 1% paid equity in the team, said: "We have Gavaskar's support and full backing. It was under his guidance that we had decided to get into this."

RSWPL chairman Shailendra Gaikwad's father, Kisan Gaikwad, said Gavaskar would look after the team's cricketing operations. It is also learnt that the player will get a stake in the franchise.

TOI, it may be recalled, had revealed how a couple of very 'big players' - including a current star - had either already worked with the franchise or had promised to do so eventually.

Later in the night, Gavaskar explained to TOI that he had indeed been approached by the Gaikwads, as also the other members of the consortium. "They have asked me, individually and collectively, to come in for the cricketing part of the team. I will take a call once the internal issues are resolved," he said in an e-mail reply. Gavaskar is on a brief trip to Dubai.

The IPL governing council is expected to meet in two days to decide the fate of the franchise which is struggling with internal disputes.

With this revelation, the Gaikwads can now hope to fight for the team's survival, and their own, from a position of strength.

The Kochi franchise had been given 10 days to resolve its internal differences and form a company or face the axe like Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

The key investors here, including owners of Anchor Earth and Parinee builders, and RSWPL have been unable to sort out issues over free equity and overall control of the team.

Gavaskar had recently quit the IPL governing council over suggestions that he was not amenable to certain high-profile officials within the board. As the battle for survival enters its final leg, he might have agreed to come out in the open to try and save the team.

The franchise managed to win a few days' grace time by submitting a reply to the board's showcause notice. The Gaikwad camp claimed it was not aware of the arrangement suggested by the investors.

"They are submitting all kinds of documents without even telling us. They anyway can't change the shareholding pattern. We hope the BCCI sticks to the stand that has seen both RR and Kings XI thrown out of the IPL," said Kisan Gaikwad.

Kisan, a senior bureaucrat, also sought to clarify certain stories doing the rounds. "My father is a freedom fighter. It hurts to hear that we have a tainted background. They have also claimed that my son Ravi (Shailendra's brother) has been suspended. I would like to say that he is still in the job."