It was a ‘record’ that Yuvraj Singh held for six years. Back in 2015, the former India all-rounder made heads turn when he was picked by Delhi Daredevils for a whopping Rs 16 crore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction. Since then, Yuvraj remained the most expensive player in the IPL auction.
But on Thursday, South African bowling all-rounder Chris Morris shattered Yuvraj’s record at the IPL 2021 auction when he was picked for Rs 16.25 crore by Rajasthan Royals.
IPL 2021 Auction: AS IT HAPPENED
While the seasoned Morris led the pack, the event saw all-rounders and fast bowlers walking away with whopping deals. Morris has had injury issues, but even then, Royals was engaged in a bidding war with Punjab Kings to get him on board. And the reason was quite simple - get an experienced bowling all-rounder, who would be able to contribute in crunch times and emerge as a match-winner.
Despite having the big names like Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer in its ranks, Royals struggled to put things in place in the middle overs last season - which eventually saw them finish at the bottom of the table, and keeping that in mind, it was important to fix the weak links.
In a similar approach, Royal Challengers Bangalore roped in Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell - who has been a perennial under-performer - for Rs 14.25 crore just to add that ‘X-factor’ to the team. After last season, the team management felt that in the middle-order, the pressure was too much on AB de Villiers and captain Virat Kohli, and to address that, Maxwell - they thought - was the right choice.
The star-studded side also roped in New Zealand speedster Kyle Jamieson - who is known more for his performances in Test cricket - for a massive Rs 15 crore deal.
Coming into the auction with the biggest purse, the re-branded Punjab Kings, too, splurged on Australian quick Jhye Richardson in a bid to tighten the fast bowling unit. In the last season, the side had a few big buys, but they could not justify their salary - forcing the franchise to look for ‘better options’, and that was evident in its approach as it also roped in uncapped pacer Riley Meredith for Rs 8 crore.
If the overseas players had a ball, Indian spin all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham, too, had an auction to remember. What started off as a bidding war between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad soon turned into a three-way battle with Chennai Super Kings (csk) making a late entry. In the end, the spinner was bought for Rs 9.25 crore - the highest Indian buy - by CSK.
A seasoned campaigner, Gowtham was released by Punjab Kings this year. At Rs 6.2 crore, he was among the more expensive Indian picks at the previous auction as well.
It was also a fruitful day for Tamil Nadu’s youngster Shahrukh Khan - who shares his name with the Bollywood superstar - as he got a Rs 5.25 crore deal from Punjab Kings - more than 51 times his base price of Rs 20 lakh. “I am getting a lot of messages from people, asking - ‘who is this Shah Rukh Khan?’ I am hoping that he shows on the ground who he is to everybody out there. We are excited to have him. So, let’s wait and watch,” Punjab’s co-owner Priety Zinta said.
Wait and watch
Even though the franchises picked their squads, there is still no clarity on where the tournament will be held. The IPL Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel, however, insisted that the tournament is likely to be held in the country with some amount of crowd in attendance. However, the teams confirmed that there is no ‘absolute clarity’ on the venues yet.
“There is no clarity as of now. The BCCI, I am sure, will weigh various options and whatever is best for the tournament will be done. It is a high-profile tournament with various stakeholders, who play an important role,” Sunrisers Hyderabad’s mentor and former India batsman, VVS Laxman, said.
Even though he admitted that conditions vary across cities in India, it was also a positive that with a squad strength of 25, the franchises had plenty of options.
Going by the choices they made, it was also an indication that the teams were preparing with the idea that the tournament will be held in India. Coming in with a rather lesser purse, CSK roped in India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara for his base price of Rs 50 lakh - paving the way for his IPL return for the first time since 2014. The Chennai outfit also strengthened its middle-order by roping in England’s Moeen Ali.
After initially going unsold, Harbhajan Singh was roped in by KKR, while Kedar Jadhav went to Sunrisers at their base prices. “As far as Kedar Jadhav is concerned, just his experience will strengthen our middle order. We have exciting middle-order batters, in the last few years, we missed the experience in this department. Kedar is also a useful bowler, he has international experience. I am happy that he is with us,” Laxman said.
Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar's son Arjun was picked by Mumbai Indians for his base price of Rs 20 lakh. He was the last name to go under the hammer.
Having been a net bowler for the team in the past, Mumbai Indians - on the expected lines - went for the Tendulkar junior. Interestingly, it is the same franchise where Tendulkar played for in the IPL and is also a mentor.
Big names, less price
While some of the overseas players made big money, former Australia captain Steve Smith went to Delhi Capitals for just Rs 2.2 crore after being released by Rajasthan Royals. “We were expecting to spend more money on him, but we got quite cheap. Steve Smith has been a fantastic player for Australia. In the last IPL, probably he hasn’t done well, that’s why a lot of franchises didn’t go for him. But I thought he will bring a lot of value to the team,” Delhi assistant coach Mohammad Kaif said.
Even Kolkata brought back Bangladesh star Shakib Al Hasan for Rs 3.2 crore and the team’s CEO Venky Mysore was happy with the decision as he felt Shakib - a former KKR recruit - will add value to the team.
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