IPL 2020 Auction: Rajasthan Royals rope in Uthappa, recall Unadkat

Despite his lukewarm performances, Jaydev Unadkat is back with Rajasthan Royals for IPL 2020, while the franchise has roped in opener Robin Uthappa.

Jaydev Unadkat and Robin Uthappa will play for Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming IPL.   -  K.V.S. GIRI

Rajasthan Royals’ love affair with Jaydev Unadkat continued as the franchise roped in the Saurashtra pace ace for another Indian Premier League (IPL) season, albeit at a cheaper price.

After being the biggest buy in the IPL auction for two seasons, in 2018 and 2019, Unadkat was released by the Royals ahead of this auction. But on Thursday, the Jaipur-based franchise once again brought him on board at Rs 3 crore.

“We could not retain him, and had planned to get him back. I'm really happy to once again have him in the team. He was the only experienced Indian pacer available at the auction and after a tough bidding battle, we managed to get him,” Royals’ head of cricket, Zubin Bharucha said.

IPL 2020 Auction LIVE

This is the second time in two years that Unadkat had a similar fate. After being bought by Rajasthan Royals for a whopping Rs 11.5 crore in 2018, Unadkat was released by the franchise last year, only to be picked again at the auction for Rs 8.5 crore - a cut of almost Rs 3 lakh from his old price.

Last year, even before the auction, the franchise officials had even indicated that they would go ‘all out’ for Unadkat, in a bid to strengthen the pace attack. And on auction day, the Royals did manage to rope in Unadkat.

But Unadkat couldn’t do justice to his hefty price tag.

In the 11 matches that he played last season, Unadkat could bag only 10 wickets and had an economy rate of 10.66.

In crunch situations, the 28-year-old pacer leaked runs and no strategy seemed to have worked for him. It was a similar situation in 2018 also, when he grabbed 11 wickets in 15 outings, with an economy rate of 9.65.

Despite being quite an effective pacer in the domestic cricket circuit, Unadkat has failed to live up to the expectations during his stint with the Royals. And ahead of this year’s auction, there were rumours that the franchise could look beyond the seasoned campaigner.

However, the Royals think-tank thought otherwise. “His performances during the latter stages of the IPL last season were brilliant as he helped us win matches, including a man of the match performance against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and he had been working with us on various aspects of his game during the off-season. He knows the franchise inside-out, therefore we are really looking forward to have him help our team again,” Bharucha explained.

Uthappa joins Royals

Along with Unadkat, Royals also roped in Robin Uthappa -- who was released by Kolkata Knight Riders -- for Rs 3 crore and the Royals officials confirmed that the seasoned campaigner has been on the team’s radar over the last few years.

“He has always been on our radar ever since he joined KKR, and has performed exceedingly well for them over the past six seasons. He has been a part of their title-winning seasons, and we look forward to him bringing his experience to our team,” Bharucha said.

“He is a fantastic batsman, and can keep wickets also, therefore he is quite a utility player when it comes to the IPL. We look forward to him being a crucial part of the Rajasthan Royals' set-up, and we want to make sure he is up to speed and settles into the team so that he can be a part of the first XI,” the franchise’s cricket director stated.

With yet another chance coming his way, Unadkat will be hoping to make his presence felt. For Uthappa, it will be about getting used to a new environment.