TNPL Player Draft 2020: Vijay Shankar, Abhinav Mukund top buys

Vijay Shankar and Abhinav Mukund were picked for Rs 6 lakhs by Salem Spartans and iDream Tiruppur Tamizhans respectively at the TNPL player draft.

The TNPL team representatives during the player draft at Crowne Plaza in Chennai on Thursday.

The TNPL team representatives during the player draft at Crowne Plaza in Chennai on Thursday.   -  K. Pichumani

Indian internationals Vijay Shankar and Abhinav Mukund were picked for the maximum price of ₹6 lakhs by Salem Spartans and iDream Tiruppur Tamizhans respectively at the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) season five’s player draft here on Thursday.

“I’m very happy to be part of Salem Spartans. This is my third team in TNPL. I hope this year I play all the games and win the tournament for my team,” said Shankar.

Other notable picks on the day included some Indian Premier League (IPL) players. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) wicket-keeper N. Jagadeesan, TNPL's all-time leading run-scorer, will ply his trade for two-time champion Chepauk Super Gillies this time around, while leg spinner M. Ashwin will represent Salem. Another IPL recruit M. Siddharth of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) was also picked by Chepauk. 

READ: TNPL Player Draft: As it happened

Few days before the auction, the inaugural winner Tuti Patriots was rechristened as Salem Spartans. On the other hand, Karaikudi Kaalai changed its name to Tiruppur Tamizhans.

Salem was first in order at the draft, which featured 633 players across four categories (A, B1, B2 and C) based on their experience. Shankar, who played for defending champion Super Gillies last season, and former Lyca Kovai Kings skipper Mukund were the only players in the top category. The sides were asked to pick a minimum of 16 players in their squad, while the maximum count was 22.

TNPL-4's leading wicket-taker 'Slinger' G. Periyasamy landed up at Salem as well. Former IPL all-rounders Rajagopal Sathish and Vijay Yo Mahesh went to Chepauk and Dindigul Dragons respectively. 

READ: Player draft on February 20, Chennai unlikely to host games

The eight teams - Salem, Tiruppur, Chepauk, Kovai, Dindigul, Siechem Madurai Panthers, Ruby Trichy Warriors and VB Kanchi Veerans - were earlier allowed to retain three players each. Ravichandran Ashwin (Dindigul), Dinesh Karthik (Tiruppur), Washington Sundar (Salem) and Murali Vijay (Trichy) were kept hold of by their respective franchises.

Others including Tamil Nadu Ranji Trophy skipper B. Aparajith (Kanchi Veerans), Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler T. Natarajan (Kovai), new CSK signing R. Sai Kishore (Trichy), who has the most number of wickets in TNPL so far, and Varun Chakravarthy (Madurai), the mystery-spinner who earned big bucks in IPL, had also been retained ahead of the draft.

Former Indian cricketer Subramaniam Badrinath, who was previously with Karaikudi, will coach Dindigul in the upcoming season. He was excited to link up with Ashwin this year.

“Ashwin is a very good professional. We've played a lot of cricket together right from India A to Tamil Nadu to CSK. Even today he was fully involved in the draft. We got a lot of feedback from him. Hopefully, we win the title with Dindigul," said Badrinath during the post-draft press conference.

No games in Chennai

TNPL 2020 will he held from June 10 to July 12 and there will be no games in Chennai this edition. Salem and Coimbatore have joined the list of venues, alongside Dindigul and Tirunelveli, which is expected to host the final.

“I think the soul of TNPL is in the southern districts and not Chennai. I'm very happy that there will be games in Coimbatore and Salem. Already in Natham and Tirunelveli, there was a good turnout. I think it's a big positive that the other centres are getting lots of games this time," Badrinath added when asked about the lack of TNPL matches in Chennai.

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