KPL auction: Stage set for unheralded names to make big gains

Mayank Agarwal, R. Samarth, K. Gowtham, and Prasidh Krishna have not been retained by their respective franchises citing potential unavailability.

Ambassador Actor Sudeep (2nd right) alongwith former cricketer Syed Kirmani(left) and G.R. Vishwanath (2nd left), Spokesperson KSCA Vinay Mruthyunjaya (right) during the launch of seventh edition of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) in Bengaluru.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

With a few high-profile names expected to have India-A and Duleep Trophy commitments, the stage is set for unheralded players to make big gains at the KPL auction here on Saturday. India-A is scheduled to play two unofficial Tests against South Africa-A here early next month while the Duleep Trophy will begin on August 17. This perhaps explains why franchises have not retained any of Mayank Agarwal, R. Samarth, K. Gowtham, or Prasidh Krishna; it remains to be seen if teams still gamble on their presence.

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"They're all really good players but it was well-known that they may not be available," said M.R. Suresh, Manager, Mysuru Warriors. "If marquee players are not available then you have to do your homework very well. This is a chance for rookie players to fill that gap. It's our responsibility to bring them into the mainstream."

Over 200 players are listed to be part of Saturday's auction, apart from the 28 retained. Franchises can spend a maximum of Rs.18 lakh on Pool A players and 12 on those in Pool B (including those retained). The minimum bids for Pool A and B players are Rs.50,000 and 25,000 respectively.

The late addition of Robin Uthappa to the auction pool has forced some franchises to reconsider their plans. A veteran of 165 IPL matches, Uthappa turned out for Saurashtra in the last domestic season but is eligible to compete in the KPL as he is still registered with a local club. "We didn't know about Robin. It was big news when we found out (on Thursday). We need to go back and work on our entire strategy again. We will be looking to buy Robin, for sure," said Belagavi Panthers owner Ali Asfak.

With doubts around the availability of some 'marquee' names in Pool A, there could be much action when Pool B players go under the hammer. "There are many undervalued players in Pool B who are as good as some of those in A," said Suresh. "Pool B will be the most intense part of the 2018 auction."

Funds remaining (in lakhs)

Bellary Tuskers 25, Belagavi Panthers 22.6, Mysuru Warriors 21.5, Shivamogga Lions 21, Bijapur Bulls 20.8, Bengaluru Blasters 18.8, Hubli Tigers 17.9.

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