Kings XI lucky to procure Gayle at auction, says co-owner

The franchise had almost run out of cash to buy the opening batsman, says Ness Wadia.

Chris Gayle was bought for his base price of Rs. 2 crore.   -  K. R. Deepak

Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia on Friday revealed the team almost lost Chris Gayle at the auction, thinking it had run out of cash.

Gayle had unexpectedly gone unsold twice before Kings XI Punjab bought him for his base price of ₹2 crore.

Wadia explained how the franchise got lucky with the Jamaican. “We had only ₹2.1 crore left and if we had bid for Chris earlier (at the auction) and another team came up with a counter bid, we did not have the money to buy him. Luckily, no other team bid for him and we were more than happy to get third time lucky,” Wadia told PTI.

Read: Sunrisers pulls off a stunner against Kings XI

Kings XI, which had retained just one player in Axar Patel before the auction, spent much money in its bid to build a team for the future. The franchise virtually exhausted its entire purse of ₹67.5 crore; Gayle was its final buy and the ₹2 crore it spent on him meant it was left with just ₹10 lakh.

Gayle has repaid his trust with two half centuries and a sensational 104 in four innings.

Yuvraj ‘good value’ to the franchise

Yuvraj Singh, the other costly left-hander in the side, has not yet been as exceptional. Yuvraj’s poor form had him warming the bench against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday. “Yuvi is not among the runs at the moment but we hope that he will bounce back. He is of good value to the franchise and that is why we got him back,” Wadia said.

Yuvraj Singh has had a lean IPL season so far. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

 

Notwithstanding Yuvraj’s hiccups, Kings XI has performed reasonably well in the first half of the season under new captain R. Ashwin. Besides Gayle, performances from K. L. Rahul, Ankit Rajpoot and young Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Zadran have stood out.

Wadia expressed his approval at his team’s performance so far. He said, “We wanted to build a team for the long term. We wanted to spend more money. We wanted an Indian captain and to be honest we wanted Ashwin at any cost. He is a genius and knows what it takes to win (having won IPL at CSK). We were very clear that if we spent the money we would get what we were looking for. That was the difference with the old strategy. Bringing an Indian captain also brings in a lot of flexibility.”

‘Long wait’

Wadia was relieved his involvement in the league was finally making financial sense. “Finally, it is making sense (financially) after 10 years. It has been a long wait. The most important thing is when we got into the IPL the focus was on to promote sport. IPL has led to the emergence of cricket leagues around the country. I am so glad about that. It has given the players a career option. It has led to leagues in other sports, too.”

Where does IPL go from here on? He said, “There has to be more international matches (for the teams), more exposure. If you include the pre-season camp, we get about an eight-week period in one year. A second tournament or a smaller tournament outside India would be very beneficial for everyone.”

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