With the Justice Lodha Commission recommendations looming large there was a cautious excitement about this year’s IPL auction. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have been banned for two years and taking their place was Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants. In a month where Government tries its best to practice fiscal prudence through its budget, there is no such concerns for IPL team owners who will break the bank to get their pick.
Two things have been constant with IPL auctions in determining a player’s price. The aura of the player and his recent performance. Remember how Luke Ronchi and Corey Anderson took home considerable cash on the strength of their performances just prior to the auction.
Shane Watson was the hottest buy with Royal Challengers Bangalore grabbing him for a whopping 9.5 crore. Yuvraj Singh was the costliest player last season and despite disappointing performances he still managed to sell for 7 crore. He will play for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Among the prudent buys was Kevin Pietersen who is in red hot form with match winning displays in the Big Bash semi-final and final. He was sold to the new comers Rising Pune Supergiants (RSP) for 3.5crore. Chris Morris who proved his credentials with CSK last year was sold for 7.00 crore to Delhi Daredevils. Morris’s bowling partner at CSK Mohit Sharma was sold to KXIP for 6.5 crore.
Gujarat Lions team looks more like a re-constituted Chennai Super Kings with Brendon Mccullum, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja all coming in. The auction strategies are often amusing and every auction throws up some wildcards. This time it was the little known West Indian Carlos Brathwaite who would have thoroughly enjoyed Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders locked in a bidding war for him. From a base price of 30 lakh he was sold for a staggering 4.2 crore to Delhi Daredevils. Brathwaite’s counter attacking batting against Australia in the recently concluded series and his performance in the Caribbean Premier League was certainly a factor in the franchise’s interest.
Dinesh Karthik’s value saw a major slump from last year’s but still managed to sell for 2.30 crore to the Gujarat Lions. They also got the bargain buy of Dhawal kulkarni for his base price.
Stuart Binny was a smart buy for RCB for his base price of 2 crore.
The franchise’s strategies are baffling at times. This time many seasoned IPL players, mainly Indian players, found no takers. Rahul Sharma the uncanny leg-spinner was a surprise leave-out. At the base price of a paltry 30 lakh he would have been a smart buy. Similar was the fate for Pragyan Ojha, Samuel Badree, Cameroon White, David Hussey and Wayne Parnell. Pragyan Ojha has 89 wickets from 92 matches in the IPL. Did someone say previous records matter? The unsold players have the option of going back into auction later today.
Sunrisers Hyderabad showed a penchant for left-handers (Shikhar Dhawan,David Warner,Yuvraj Singh, Trent Boult,Ashish Nehra and Eoin Morgan to name a few) and as Harsha Bhogle tweeted they could even field an all-left handers eleven.
IPL auction is a buyer’s market and not every decision can be explained logically. The player’s capability is not the sole criterion. Even the personal preferences of the coach or captain have a say. Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders retained most of their players and were looking for minor reinforcements only. Delhi Daredevils were looking for an overhaul for the second season running and have a highly unbalanced line-up. Though they have some potency in their bowling attack, their batting line-up is wafer thin.
As usual the technical players like Mahela Jayawardene, Cheteshwer Pujara went unsold reiterating the franchises’ psyche that they are looking for swashbuckling innovative players. The newsmakers at the auction often fail to impress in the tournament and it is the team with the right combination that gets going. Things might look good on the paper, translating that on the ground is another matter.