Yuvi, a real money spinner

Yuvraj Singh caused a stir with his zooming price-tag. If previously Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) spread its resources thin and coughed up 14 crores to net him, currently Delhi Daredevils flush with an available purse of Rs. 39,75,00,000, bagged him at a whopping 16 crores. By K. C. Vijaya Kumar.

Richard Madley moved to the rostrum, pounded his gavel and pronounced Hashim Amla’s name. The South African great was the first to be off-the-blocks in the Indian Premier League player auction at the ITC Gardenia Hotel in Bengaluru on a Monday morning that was shedding its winter shroud and embracing the sun’s warmth.

And as the auctioneer mentioned Amla’s base price of rupees two crore and implored the franchises to pitch in their bids, the hall lapsed into silence. Amla found no takers and as the ruthlessness of team owners sunk in, Madley realised that his opening gambit had suffered a duck!

If there was some consolation for Amla, busy with his World Cup commitments, pedigreed men such as Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena too suffered a similar fate. In the jinxed club of legends, Amla had some company!

Uncapped players lured attention and none did it more than a mystery spinner, K. C. Cariappa, hailing from Coorg.-ASHWIN ACHAL

The rest of the day, however, wasn’t so bad as cricket and commerce forged a bond and the account was aptly opened by Murali Vijay, who went for rupees three crore with Kings XI Punjab pocketing India’s Test opener.

And just like last year, Yuvraj Singh caused a stir with his zooming price-tag. If previously Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) spread its resources thin and coughed up 14 crores to net him, currently Delhi Daredevils flush with an available purse of Rs. 39,75,00,000, bagged him at a whopping 16 crores.

It turned out to be the highest bid for the day and it was not devoid of drama. After Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab made some cursory noises, Daredevils plumped for the all-rounder, who failed to find a berth in the Indian World Cup squad. It seemed well set when RCB having avowedly released him to gain some monetary breathing space, did a volte-face and began to aggressively compete with Daredevils.

RCB went all the way to 15.50 crores which absolutely made no sense. But Daredevils pulled away and Yuvraj was set to link-up with the team’s supremo Gary Kirsten, who was his former India coach during the glorious time when M. S. Dhoni’s men won the 2011 World Cup and the southpaw himself emerged as the ‘Player of the Tournament.’

Another player who got lucky was Dinesh Karthik as the former India wicket-keeper batsman gained a solid 10.50 crores from RCB. It wasn’t all big money gushing out as some franchises got fortunate with a few buys. Kevin Pietersen was grabbed by Sunrisers Hyderabad at his base price of two crores and the same team also got Eoin Morgan at his quoted rate of 1.50 crores! Sunrisers also did well to get New Zealand’s Mr. Consistent Kane Williamson at a mere 60 lakhs.

Similarly, players who smartly toned down their value, also found takers and for instance the hard-working S. Badrinath went for 30 lakhs with RCB gleefully accepting him into its fold. Some got second-time lucky too as Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan, ignored the first time around, found buyers when they were fielded in the afternoon’s accelerated bidding process. Zaheer got four crore from Daredevils while Irfan gained 1.50 from Chennai Super Kings.

While established names wavered between the acceptance and the rejection baskets, uncapped players lured attention and none did it more than a mystery spinner hailing from Coorg and plying his wares in Bengaluru. K. C. Cariappa was the most coveted cricketer once Kolkata Knight Riders edged past Daredevils and shelled 2.40 crores to recruit him.

Yet to play a single first-class game, the 20-year-old was so stunned that he began to cut calls or when he did answer, lapsed into mono-syllables and then implored: “Why don’t you talk to my coach?” His mentor — Sudhindra Shinde, a former Karnataka player — had identified Cariappa’s talent and also guided him in his stint with Bijapur Bulls, a team that plays in the Karnataka Premier League.

Starting as a leg-spinner, Cariappa now also bowls off-breaks and the carom ball and for Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore, the lad was worth taking a ‘punt’.

The varying impulses of owners were also on view as a 44-year-old left-arm chinaman bowler — Australia’s Brad Hogg — and a 17-year-old Mumbai all-rounder Sarfraz Naushad Khan found buyers in Knight Riders and RCB, respectively.

And as 67 players were sold with their collective budget touching 87.6 crores, some threads remained the same. Chennai Super Kings opted for continuity and roped back its former member Michael Hussey while Rajasthan Royals stayed conservative, living up to its low-profile theme. Mumbai Indians meanwhile invested in Australia’s Aaron Finch (3.20 crores) and also did a cost-saving buy-back by spending just 50 lakhs on Pragyan Ojha.

Surely, the IPL player auction has come a long way since its maiden round in 2008 when Adam Gilchrist reacted to his US $ 700,000 price that the then Deccan Chargers spent on him, by saying: “There was a little element of feeling like a cow.” Players now no longer feel like cattle and are comfortable being in the inner-circle of riches.