IPL auction: Buzz around 'lesser lights'

Negi, who has just been picked for the India Twenty20 squads for the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka, Asia Cup and the ICC World Twenty20, came in at the base price of Rs. 30 lakh and triggered a bidding war between Rising Pune Supergiants and Delhi Daredevils. His value appreciated at break-neck speed before Daredevils had the last word.

Pawan Negi... Ra. 8.5 crore for Delhi Daredevils.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Shane Watson... bought by RCB for Rs. 9.5 crore.   -  K. Pichumani

Mumbai Indians' owners Nita Ambani (left) and Akash Ambani (right) with Rajeev Shukla, the IPL Chairman, during the auction.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Rationalisation of cost with regard to the stars, riches for uncapped cricketers and the sudden spotlight on the unheralded player, were all part of the IPL auction at the ITC Gardenia Hotel here on Saturday.

Men like Shane Watson and Yuvraj Singh, did still laugh their way to the bank, with the former getting the day’s highest bid of Rs. 9.5 crore from Royal Challengers Bangalore while the latter went for less at Rs. 7 crore (relatively when compared to the 14 and 16 crores in the previous years).

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Yet, the buzz was bigger around the so-called lesser lights. It is remarkable that even at Rs. 7 crore, Yuvraj was not the most-expensive Indian player as that spot went to Delhi’s left-arm spinner Pawan Negi. The 23-year-old bagged Rs. 8.5 crore, and was second behind Watson.

Negi, who has just been picked for the India Twenty20 squads for the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka, Asia Cup and the ICC World Twenty20, came in at the base price of Rs. 30 lakh and triggered a bidding war between Rising Pune Supergiants and Delhi Daredevils. His value appreciated at break-neck speed before Daredevils had the last word.

While Negi eagerly awaits his coveted India cap, Rajasthan’s Nathu Singh turned out to be the day’s heart-warming story. The fast bowler tided over poverty thanks to the unalloyed love from his father, who, despite being a labourer in a wire factory in Rajasthan, backed his son’s cricketing ambition. The 20-year-old from Jaipur has been rated high by the likes of Rahul Dravid and when his name cropped up in the uncapped list, Nathu’s base-price was a modest Rs. 10 lakh.

Nathu was soon on the highway to prosperity as first-up RCB and Delhi Daredevils sparred and just as the Bengaluru team seemed to have pocketed him at Rs. 3 crore, Mumbai Indians waded in and upped the ante at Rs. 3.20 crore, which turned out to be his final price.

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Among other unheralded players, who created a monetary flutter were Kishore Pramod Kamath, leg-spinner from Hubbali, and Krunal Pandya, Gujarat’s left-arm spinner. Kamath (Rs. 1.4 crore) and Pandya (Rs. 2 crore) were also embraced by the Mumbai Indians think-tank. Later, Akash Ambani said: “We have been scouting for seven months, we wanted the right domestic talent, those two names just stood out for us.”

Murugan Ashwin was another who leapfrogged into stardom. The Tamil Nadu leg-spinner came in at a base-price of Rs. 10 lakh and had a bull-run as both Rising Pune Supergiants and RCB competed with each other to gain his services. Finally at Rs. 4.50 crore, Supergiants netted him. In terms of appreciation of value from the 10-lakh base, Ashwin found maximum growth.

Among ‘low-profile’ overseas players, South Africa’s Chris Morris (Daredevils, Rs. 7 crore) and West Indian Carlos Brathwaite (Daredevils, Rs. 4.2 crore) found a berth in the top-10 buys.

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If the unsung purveyors of cricket found their limelight, it was a mixed-bag for the seniors. At 36, Ashish Nehra was richer by Rs. 5.5 crore thanks to Sunrisers Hyderabad while legends — Mahela Jayawardene and Hashim Amla — found no takers.

But strange things did happen as New Zealand’s Martin Guptill was ignored in the morning and when his name was bought into play during the afternoon’s accelerated-round, he elicited no response!

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Top-buys (in crores)

Shane Watson (Royal Challengers Bangalore), 9.5 ; Pawan Negi (Delhi Daredevils), 8.5; Yuvraj Singh (Sunrisers Hyderabad), 7; Chris Morris (Delhi Daredevils), 7; Mohit Sharma (Kings XI Punjab), 6.5; Ashish Nehra (Sunrisers Hyderabad), 5.5; Mitchell Marsh (Rising Pune Supergiants), 4.8; M. Ashwin (Rising Pune Supergiants), 4.5; Sanju Samson (Delhi Daredevils), 4.2; Carlos Brathwaite (Delhi Daredevils), 4.2 and Deepak Hooda (Sunrisers Hyderabad), 4.2.

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The following biggies were ignored at the auction

Martin Guptill (NZ, base price 50 lakh); Hashim Amla (SA, 1cr); George Bailey (Aus, 1 cr); Michael Hussey (Aus, 2 cr) and Usman Khawaja (Aus, 1 cr).

> Read — IPL auction: as it happened

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