The huge party that the IPL is, begins with the auction itself. Every year, there are some high-profile buys who draw huge sums of money, some players who are expected to cash in huge cheques but end up remaining unsold, unknown uncapped players who end up with way more than their base price.
When it comes to the IPL, we've come to expect the unexpected. The auction this year was no different. 66 players were recruited. and 91.15 crores were spent. Bids came in all shapes and sizes, and there were a good number of players in all the three categories
1. Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills hit jackpot
Ben Stokes is a great player, undoubtedly. But still, the amount of money spent on him is just way too much.At ₹14.5 Crore, his is the highest bid for a foreign player in IPL history, and the second-highest overall. Ben Stokes had proved his credentials when he played here in the recently concluded Test and ODI series against India, but for a side that was already stacked with too many foreigners, was he really worth it? The Pune Supergiants already have Steven Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Faf du Plessis and Adam Zampa
On the other hand, Tymal Mills for RCB sounds like a good buy. They lost the services of Mitchell Starc and needed a good fast bowler in their team, that's mostly dependent on their batting. Mills has had some fitness issues in the past, and because of a congenital back condition, had to retire from first-class cricket at the age of 22. But he can bowl in T20s, and as he showed in the T20 series against India, can bowl well too. He bowled a beauty that got rid of a rampaging Yuvraj Singh in the second T20. But still, ₹12 crore is too much for a bowler who might leave before the business end of the tournament gets underway.
Historic day for associate nations.
For cricketers coming from the war-torn nation of Afghanistan, playing cricket in IPL is a distant dream. A dream that two of their players will live this year. Mohammad Nabi, who has been the poster boy of Afghanistan cricket for many years now, was snapped up by Sunrisers Hyderabad at his base price of ₹30 lakh. The 31-year-old all-rounder has overcome stunning odds to take Afghanistan cricket to where it is now, and his presence in the IPL would be a huge boost for the sport in his country.
But for Afghan cricket, this is not the most exciting news to come from the IPL auction. Rashid Khan, 18-year-old spinner, was also picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad, and he was handed a ₹4 crore contract, more than 10 times more than his base price of ₹30 lakh. Mohammad Nabi, who has been an inspiration to many Afghani cricketers, including Rashid, tweeted that he was much more delighted for the youngster than he was for himself. The rise of Afghanistan over the past few years has been one of the most romantic stories cricket has ever seen. They've made spectacular progress, especially in T20 cricket, and are ranked 9th in the world, above Bangladesh, so this should not actually come as a surprise. IPL contracts for two of their players might be the most significant news they have this year.
Afghanistan wasn't the only associate nation that had a reason to be delighted. Chirag Suri, whose father migrated from Delhi to UAE when he was 6, was bought by Gujarat Lions for a sum of ₹10 lakh. The 22-year-old is called the 'Kohli of UAE' by his teammates. Apart from the fact that he likes to emulate Kohli in the way he bats, he is also known to express himself freely on the field. He had played some good knocks against the Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians when the IPL was held in UAE in 2014. Chirag hopes to learn from the likes of Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina, who will be his teammates as Gujarat Lions.
Imran Tahir, Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy remained unsold
There's no explanation for the fact that Imran Tahir remained unsold at this year's IPL auction. Here's a guy who is the top ranked bowler in ODIs and T20I ICC rankings. He's been in terrific form and has been instrumental in South Africa's 12-match unbeaten run in ODIs. Known to contain the flow of runs, Tahir was one limited overs' specialist that could have been a great addition to any IPL side at his base price of ₹50 lakh. But no one bid for him. And the same is true for Johnny Bairstow and Jason Roy. Both of these had good performances in India just about a month before the IPL auction. You'd think that would be enough to get them hefty paychecks. But no, they also did not attract any buyers. The fact that their availability for the entire duration of the IPL wasn't certain might have played a part, but that didn't deter franchises from spending
Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan remained unsold.
It's rare to see capped Indian international players finding no buyers at the IPL auction. But Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan were left embarrassed at this year's auction as they found no takers. With Ishant Sharma, his high base price could have played a role. After an ordinary 2016 season, Ishant was released by Pune Supergiants but listed himself at a base price of ₹2 crores. For a player that who plays almost no limited overs cricket outside the IPL, this might have been a bit too much.
It's slightly tougher to understand why Irfan Pathan remained unsold. He's a handy all-rounder. He only got to play only 1 match for Pune last season and was plagued by injuries for most of 2016. He did make a good comeback in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, though, taking 5 wickets in 4 games with an economy of 6.28 at an average of 17.6. And at his base price of ₹50 lakh, could have been a good purchase.
Uncapped Indian players had huge paydays.
This was perhaps the most popular story from the IPL auction, one that deserves an article for itself. Uncapped Indian players went home with their hands full. Tamil Nadu's T Natarajan, Hyderabad's Mohammad Siraj, Rajasthan's Aniket Choudhary and Karnataka's K Gowtham bagged contracts worth ₹3 crore, ₹2.6 crore, ₹2 crore and ₹2 crore respectively.
Natrajan, who started playing professional cricket just 5 years ago, went to Kings XI Punjab for 30 times his base price of ₹10 lakhs. His father is a coolie, and his mother ran a wayside meat stall. It's safe to say his life is going to change completely. Mohammad Siraj also has an equally inspiring story. His father has been an auto-rickshaw driver for 30 years now. Now that he's signed a ₹2.6 crore deal, he wants to buy a small house for his parents and ask his father to give up his auto-rickshaw and stop slogging for the family.