Unadkat becomes millionaire, Gayle stays in the IPL

Jaydev Unadkat, who was the second-highest wicket-taker in the IPL last year, was sold to Rajasthan Royals for 11.5 crore after fevered bidding.

Unadkat carved out a reputation as a fine T20 bowler in the IPL last year with his 24 wickets at 13.41.   -  M. Vedhan

Jaydev Unadkat emerged as the most expensive Indian player while Chris Gayle found a franchise after twice going unsold as the 2018 IPL auction drew to a close here on Sunday.

Unadkat, who was the second-highest wicket-taker in the IPL last year, was sold to Rajasthan Royals for 11.5 crore after fevered bidding.

Gayle, an icon of T20 cricket, was twice snubbed by teams before being presented a third-time minute from the end. Kings XI Punjab signed him for his reserve price of 2 crore.

Australia's Andrew Tye cost Punjab 7.2 crore while the uncapped Karnataka off-spinner K. Gowtham went to Rajasthan for a sum of 6.2 crore.

A gifted off-spinner with the ability to strike the ball long, Gowtham had found himself in hot water earlier this season after skipping a Duleep Trophy game, but franchises were happy to overlook such matters.

Rajasthan, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore all sought his signature before he was snapped up by the first of those, for 31 times his base price of 20 lakh.

More windfall for Afghanistan

There was more joy for Afghanistan's cricketers before Sandeep Lamichhane became the first IPL player from Nepal.

Rashid Khan had already ensured Afghan representation in the 2018 IPL on Saturday, and he was joined by three compatriots on the second day of the auction. The 16-year-old off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran – who tied New Zealand in knots in the quarterfinals of the U19 World Cup on Thursday – went to Punjab for 4 crore.

The experienced Mohammed Nabi rejoined Sunrisers Hyderabad for 1 crore, while the left-arm spinner Zahir Khan Pakteen, also currently part of the Afghan U-19 team at the World Cup, was bought by Rajasthan for 60 lakh.

Lungi Dance

The moment Chennai Super Kings bought Lungi Ngidi for 50 lakh, the internet exploded. It was, for those fond of a pun or two, a gift from god. “Lungi dance start!” tweeted the official CSK handle while one user asked Ngidi if he could bowl fast wearing a lungi. 'On behalf of all lungi brands,' another chortled, 'we welcome Lungi'. The South African bowler was quickly on board. “Just listened to the #LungiDance song loving it already,” he tweeted, to an outpouring of appreciation from fans. If his form in Chennai is anything like it was in Centurion, Ngidi could become a cult figure.

Steyn goes unsold

The fourth set of the morning featured capped fast bowlers and there was at once a scramble for their services. Only one out of 10 went unsold – South Africa's Dale Steyn.

The pursuit of Unadkat was predictable. The left-arm quick carved out a reputation as a fine T20 bowler in the IPL last year with his 24 wickets at 13.41. The Saurashtra bowler was hugely effective in the death-overs. Chennai Super Kings and Punjab – both of whom badly needed fast bowlers at that stage – went toe-to-toe, raising the paddle non-stop till the former pulled out at 11 crore.

Preity Zinta, Punjab's co-owner, thought she had her player but Rajasthan, which had stood by watching the action, leapt in with a late winning bid.

M. Vijay and Parthiv Patel, part of a memorable Test win for India in South Africa on Saturday, had gone unsold on the opening day of the auction. They were signed up on Sunday. However, the likes of Hashim Amla, Lasith Malinga, Joe Root, Ishant Sharma, and Morne Morkel went unsold.

Sunday's top buys: Jaydev Unadkat (11.5 crore, RR), Andrew Tye (7.2 crore, KXIP), K. Gowtham (6.2 crore, RR), Mujeeb Zadran (4 crore, KXIP), Evin Lewis (3.8 crore, MI).

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