Ishan Kishan and Deepak Chahar clinched the most eye-popping deals as India’s battle-hardened T20 exponents laughed their way to the bank on the opening day of IPL mega-auction where the franchises saved their highest bids for home-grown talent. Kishan’s Rs 15.25 crore winning bid from Mumbai Indians pipped the Rs 14 crore figure that CSK offered to retain Deepak Chahar on Saturday. Franchises showed prudence in overall spending but didn’t hesitate to loosen the purse strings for proven performers, especially Indians. In terms of US Dollars, there were 20 million-plus buys, the biggest by far at any IPL auction with most of the beneficiaries being Indian T20 specialists.
It was a satisfying ‘Pay Day’ for all current India internationals with Shreyas Iyer getting a staggering Rs 12.25 crore deal from Kolkata Knight Riders and the multi-skilled Shardul Thakur making Delhi Capitals break the bank with a Rs 10.75 crore.
These two, along with Kishan and Chahar, were the top four buys of the day.
“I’m really excited to be back at MI. I know everyone has treated me there like a family so I am really happy to be there and I hope to give my best to the team. Thank you so much,” said the 23-year-old Kishan in a video posted on his twitter handle.
The big-hitting Kishan made his India debut last year and has been a Mumbai Indians player all along, performing consistently well for the side.
Young pacer Prasidh Krishna (Rs 10 crore) was paid big by Rajasthan Royals for his timely Man of the Series performance against the West Indies while Washington Sundar, another India regular, got richer by Rs 8.75 crore.
One of the expected big buys was pacer Avesh Khan, who was bought by Lucknow Super Giants for Rs 10 crore, the highest in the history of IPL for uncapped players.
Yuzvendra Chahal would be a bit cross as he came late in the day and could only get Rs 6.5 crore from Rajasthan Royals.
Even Nitish Rana, not an Indian regular but an IPL performer, was retained for Rs 8 crore by KKR while the uncapped Rahul Tripathi, who has been consistent in the league, very deservingly crossed the million dollar mark at Rs 8.50 crore.
Shahrukh Khan, another formidable domestic T20 finisher but one with a base price of a mere Rs 20 lakh, was taken for a ‘mic-drop’ deal of Rs 9 crore by Punjab Kings.
Rajasthan’s former one-season wonder Rahul Tewatia was lapped up by Gujarat Titans for a mind-boggling Rs 9 crore.
It wasn’t an auction to remember for the old guard and only two 35 plus players — Shikhar Dhawan (Rs 8.25 crore, Punjab Kings) and Ravichandran Ashwin (Rs 5 crore, Rajasthan Royals) — got good deals.
Among other seniors Mohammed Shami was taken by Gujarat Titans for Rs 6.25 crore. His new ball partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar got Rs 4.6 crore from Sunrisers.
While this was the last mega auction, what was impressive was the discretion that franchises used while buying players as the focus was on top Indian players available in the market and currently playing white-ball cricket.
For Chennai Super Kings, the aim was to follow Mahendra Sigh Dhoni’s template and retain their core base of players as much as possible as they waited to buy back Deepak, another multi-skilled cricketer on ascendancy for India.
KKR retained eight out of their top first 11 players from last season but are still looking short in the fast bowling department.
KKR didn’t do too badly as they picked up Australian Test captain Pat Cummins at Rs 7.25 crore, which is less than half of what he was paid at last auction.
“To get back Pat Cummins at that price, we are very, very delighted. We thought he would go higher,” KKR CEO Venky Mysore said.
“We could not be happier getting Cummins and Shreyas in the first round itself. Heart beats a bit more properly now, we can now have some fun looking at what else is going on,” he added.
While Cummins is a captaincy candidate, he will not be available during the first two weeks even though Mysore didn’t want to commit on captaincy.
“As far as captaincy is concerned, that’s a decision our coach and the think-tank will take. Certainly, between Cummins and Shreyas, we have solid options for us. I’m sure the think-tank will make the right decisions,” he added.
Franchises do their homework
In case of overseas recruits, the franchises focussed on those who have shown themselves to be consistent performers in previous IPLs and with a reputation of doing well on Indian tracks.
Like other years, none of the franchises got swayed by performances in Big Bash League, the Caribbean Premier League and the Pakistan Super League and concentrated solely on those who can bring value during the IPL.
So Wanindu Hasaranga, who is from Sri Lanka and currently the world’s No. 1 T20 International bowler, fetched Rs 10.75 crore while West Indian Nicholas Pooran, despite a disastrous IPL the last time, got a similar amount from Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The same reason got England’s keeper-batter Jonny Bairstow a Rs 6.75 crore bid from Punjab Kings.
It was a case of supply and demand and at what time of the auction one is placed as teams, save for CSK (Dhoni) and Delhi Capitals (Rishabh Pant), didn’t have wicketkeepers.
Pooran is an optimistic buy considering that he can be destructive on his day.
The discretion was evident when one saw a David Warner going for Rs 6.25 crore.
It was a very good bargain buy for Delhi Capitals and same could be said about newcomers Lucknow Supergiants, who got a fabulous player like Quinton de Kock for Rs 6.75 crore.
“Absolutely excited to buy David Warner. I cannot believe that we got such a legend at Rs 6.25 crore. With Warner and Prithvi Shaw opening the batting, it will be an explosive start to every single Delhi Capitals innings,” DC co-owner Parth Jindal said.
The paucity of all-rounders meant that Jason Holder (Rs 8.75 crore) and Shardul would have attracted solid bids.
“We are really excited to have Shardul as he can bowl in Powerplays and bowl at the death,” Jindal said.
Their only dodgy buy is Mitchell Marsh, whose IPL career has been plagued by injuries and paying him Rs 6.50 crore could be a bit of an oversight considering he can’t be played at No. 3, where he worked wonders for Australia.
Among domestic players, Riyan Parag’s Rs 3.80 crore retention by Royals, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy performer Abhinav Manohar’s Rs 2.60 crore deal with Gujarat Titans were eye-catching.
South Africa’s U-19 World Cup star Dewald Brevis, known as ‘Baby AB’ for his batting style’s resemblance to AB de Villiers, was brought by Mumbai Indians for Rs 3 crore.
Abhishek Sharma, a left-arm spinner and left-handed batter, who many term as ‘Poor Man’s Krunal Pandya’ for similar skill sets got a whopping Rs 6.5 crore from Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Foreign fast bowlers in demand
Trent Boult came in the marquee set and still fetched a million dollars (Rs 8 crore) for his good show in previous years for Mumbai Indians as Rajasthan Royals aggressively bid for him.
But when his New Zealand teammate and slightly pacier Lockie Ferguson arrived in fast bowler’s set, he got the paddles raised at frequent intervals and Gujarat Titans, who didn’t have a great first day, suddenly got activated and bought him for Rs 10 crore.
For CSK, Josh Hazlewood’s exit will be a big deal as the Australian pacer will now play for RCB with a deal of Rs 7.75 crore.
Another speed demon Mark Wood of England got Rs 7.5 crore from Lucknow Super Giants.
Good bargain buys by Lucknow Super Giants
While RCB got their opening issues and captaincy sorted with a Rs 7 crore bid for Faf Du Plessis, Lucknow Supergiants claimed Quinton de Kock for Rs 6.75 crore.
Also, a currently out-of-sorts Manish Pandey, for Rs 4.6 crore, wasn’t a bad bargain either.
Lucknow, however, bid big for Krunal and clinched him for a cool Rs 8.25 crore. His former Baroda bete noire Deepak Hooda was also taken by Lucknow for Rs 5.75 crore.
It is now up to Lucknow mentor Gautam Gambhir, who knows a thing or two about volatile temperaments, to see that team spirit is not hampered by the warring duo.
Pujara, Rahane, Ishant don’t come under hammer, Saha unsold
Three prominent Test specialists Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma didn’t come under the hammer on the day and it is understood that franchises didn’t want to spend on players who don’t bring value to the table with their T20 game.
They might come back on Sunday at the accelerated bidding process if someone expresses interests. Wriddhiman Saha, who has been told that he won’t be picked for Test matches went unsold as teams are looking beyond the soon-to-be 38 year-old Bengal stumper.
Umesh Yadav, for his inconsistent white ball record, also went unsold and one of IPL’s bonafide legends Suresh Raina found out that just playing IPL to IPL wouldn’t work as Chennai Super Kings didn’t bid for him. Ditto for Steve Smith who went unsold as there were no takers.
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