IPL auction: Indians opt for lower base price

One of the startling features of the player-auction list, circulated by the IPL authorities among the managements of teams, and accessed by Sportstar, is Indian cricketers’ preference for lower base price in order to attract bids from the team owners.

Ishant Sharma is the only Indian among seven marquee players with a base price of Rs. 2 crore. None of the other Indian cricketers have opted for an eight-digit base price.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

It’s the time of the year when a cricketer’s value is discussed in monetary terms rather than his ability on the field. As the countdown to the player-auction for the 10th Indian Premier League (February 20) begins, the eight franchises have swung into action to fill the vacant slots. Consequently, after pruning the initial list of 799 players, the franchises have settled for a final list of 351 players.

The list, circulated by the IPL authorities among the managements of teams, and accessed by Sportstar, features 122 Indian cricketers, including 23 capped players. One of the startling features of the list is Indian cricketers’ preference for lower base price in order to attract bids from the team owners. Barring Ishant Sharma — the only Indian among seven marquee players with a base price of Rs. 2 crore — none of the other Indian cricketers have opted for an eight-digit base price. These include Twenty20 specialists such as Irfan Pathan and Varun Aaron, who have set their base price at Rs. 50 lakh each. Even Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary, who had remained unsold with a base price of Rs. 1 crore last year, has slashed his minimum price tag to Rs. 50 lakh.

Pathan stressed that his low base price is aimed solely at earning an opportunity to play. “My sole priority is to be able to play most games throughout the season,” he told Sportstar. “I don’t look at IPL only to make money. At this stage of my career, if I have to get back into contention, I should be able to get noticed and the IPL offers that platform, so money is secondary for me.”

Tiwary too said that the objective of slashing his base price is to get picked. “After missing out the last season, it’s important for me to be part of the IPL,” he said.

The trend of players opting for lower base price has emerged over the last few years, especially for a mini-auction like the one to be held in Bengaluru on February 20. While the teams aren’t too keen on splurging big bucks, the players have also realised that lower base price increases their chance of attracting the interest of multiple teams.

As a result, two of the biggest earners of the 2016 auction —all-rounder Pawan Negi and leg-spinner M. Ashwin — have kept their base price at Rs. 30 lakh. While Negi had been snapped up by Delhi Daredevils for Rs. 8.5 crore last year, Ashwin had been bought by Rising Pune Supergiants for Rs 4.5 crore. Sensing that they have been released primarily for the sake of price correction, both the players seem to have opted for a very low base price.

VITAL STATISTICS

351: The number of players up for auction, including 122 from India and 229 overseas cricketers.

6: The number of players from associate nations shortlisted for the auction — five from Afghanistan and one from the UAE.

76: The maximum number of slots available across all eight teams, including a maximum of 28 overseas cricketers.

143.33: The amount (in crores) of rupees that can be spent by all the teams put together during the auction. Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab have the largest available purse, Rs. 23.1 crore and Rs. 23.35 crore respectively.

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