The IPL auction has come to an end, with teams returning back after shelling out cash in what was a very predictable auction. However, there were highs, lows, successes and disappointments. We, at SportsCafe, sat together in the newsroom, brainstormed, and eventually listed out our picks.
Who fared the best - Kolkata Knight Riders
Undoubtedly, it has to be Kolkata Knight Riders. A team that had always believed in continuity broke their bank to sign two of their former players - Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins - in what was a fine day for them. Cummins might have cost over 15 crore but add to that Morgan’s value, they have an average spend of 10 cr for the duo, which covers a lot of bases for the Kolkata-based franchise. Hey, I still haven't talked about Tom Banton, Chris Green, Rahul Tripathi and M Siddharth - who combinedly cost them a total of 2 cr - an average of 50 Lakhs. If I were Shahrukh Khan - the original King Khan and not Tamil Nadu’s distraught Shahrukh Khan - I would have jumped and hugged and kissed Brendon McCullum and Abhishek Nayar today. If they can’t win the IPL with this team, forget everything, they can never win an IPL in the coming years.
Who fared the worst - Rajasthan Royals
Oh Rajasthan, what have you done? With their 4 overseas players - Smith, Archer, Stokes and Buttler - all but fixed - everything that the Royals needed to do was filling the holes in their team. After having traded K Gowtham off to KXIP and with their lower-order crying to sign a few Indian batsmen (or hitters, to be specific), instead of bringing in like-for-like replacements, the team went ahead and signed not one, not two, but THREE overseas pacers Their strategy looked haphazard right from the word go and by no means are they now in a better position than where they were prior to the auction. I mean, there is no justification for exiting the auction with 14.75 crore left in your purse and yet having Riyan Parag as your second-choice spinner. They did sign a bunch of kids, but wait, where is the finisher? Where is Gowtham’s replacement? Why does Archer have three back-ups? Smith won’t be a happy skipper for sure.
Value for Money buy - Chris Lynn
Just imagine this situation. They have Quinton de Kock, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga - their three overseas starters no matter what. This makes Chris Lynn’s signing an interesting one. In the past, they were forced to open with Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan and desperately needed some enforcements in that angle, especially after releasing Evin Lewis. You search in the market and find Chris Lynn who just blazed the Abu Dhabi T10 League set on fire where he could have reached 100 at least three times. Mumbai snapped him up for just 2 crore and I can’t really think of any other player as the value for money pick.
Steal - Chris Green to KKR for 20 lakh
Overseas spinners - unless they’re someone like an Imran Tahir or a Sunil Narine - usually don’t create ripples in the IPL auction and for the first time in a long while, prior to the auction, there was a spinner, an Aussie (!!), who was expected to make teams broke. Well, as it turned out, the paddle was raised JUST ONCE and he was sold for an incredulous price of 20 LAKH! Not only does Green’s extraordinary T20 numbers - 64 wickets at en ER of 6.68 - speaks volumes of his ability, but the fact that he fits into this KKR team as the perfect foil for their strike bowlers - Cummins, Kuldeep and Prasidh Krishna - makes this a match made in heaven. The Knight Riders got Green for less than 5 times of what he’s worth; a daylight robbery, if there ever was one.
Overpriced player - Pat Cummins
Let us make this extremely simple and straightforward. A bowler, not even Murali in his prime, can never be worth the value of a batsman in the IPL. It is not the fact that bowlers get taken for ride all across the country and more by hard hitting batsmen on flat tracks, but rather the fact that they are bowlers. No matter how great a bowler one is, his impact is restricted to just four overs, which is just 10% of the entire game. So unless Cummins can pick up a fifer in every single game that he plays for KKR, it is way too much money spent on one single player.
Best uncapped signing - Sai Kishore
Sai Kishore! The name continually made rounds ahead of the IPL auction as the spinner helped Tamil Nadu reach the final of both Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the Mushtaq Ali T20s, he was the highest wicket-taker in the country and who better than CSK to understand this. The franchise’s entire system runs on the formula of “spinning” the result at Chepauk and Kishore, who knows the venue in and out, should be a great fit. Why I considered him above Rahul Tripathi is very simple - he might not start but if Harbhajan Singh underperforms, then CSK have someone they can straightaway go for as a replacement. 20 Lakhs is the amount they were happy to shell out and Sai Kishore can use this as the first step to hopefully go for bigger and grander things in life.
Best Overseas signing - Eoin Morgan
If there was one player, apart from Pat Cummins, that would have tempted every team in the league to shell out some cash, it was Eoin Morgan. He eventually landed on the team - that always seems to get their picks right - in Kolkata Knight Riders. Last season the biggest concern for KKR throughout the season was the lack of proper middle order. In Morgan, not only have they acquired a player that can play in any role that you want him to play in but have added experience to a team that appeared to need one. Had his value been slightly under 5.25 crores, he would have been a shoo in for the steal of the auction as well.
Happiest Team - Kings XI Punjab
Watching Anil Kumble at the auction was like watching peak Ronaldo at Nou Camp during the early 2010s: He just had that “Calm down, I got this” look about him and boy didn’t his team absolutely nail the auction. They got everyone wanted. LITERALLY. I mean, with 42 crore in their purse, not many teams were capable of out-bidding them, but they were crystal clear on who they actually wanted and they swooped up them all. They needed an x-factor player and they got Maxwell; They needed a quality death bowler and they roped in Jordan; They needed a wicket-taker with the new ball and they signed Sheldon Cottrell; They needed a quality Indian pacer and they landed Ishan Porel. I mean, never once did they lose out on any player they had their eye on and now, at least on paper, they look like a force to be reckoned with. The management won’t be just happy with the auction, they would be ECSTATIC!
Saddest Team - Royal Challengers Bangalore
It could be no one but RCB who would win this category. They seemed hell bent on landing Pat Cummins and went over half their budget to land the Aussie. But alas it did not come off. But he wasn’t the only “one that got away”. They also went in hard to hand Alex Carey as a back-up, or even starter, for Parthiv Patel but just got out-muscled by Delhi Capitals. Eventually, it appeared that they landed on their second choice players. However, even then, the rest of the field decided to mess with them which saw them acquire Kane Richardson for a massive 4 crores and of course the crowning jewel in Chris Morris for 10 crores.
Best player who was not bought : Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan! Well, we are not talking about the King! The Badshah! The hearthrob! But what happened to my Shahrukh Khan, the 100% original copy. The Tamil Nadu batsman set the stage on fire and played some of the best innings in both the Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy but that was not enough to find him a team. The sad reality was he was brought into the auction thrice and had good enough credentials to be picked. Take this for instance. With scores like 48* and 69* against Rajasthan and Bengal on seam-friendly tracks in Jaipur - both in a difficult time for the team - he showed his potential but when he made Kerala's Sandeep Warrier and Basil Thampi suffer for their inadequacies, Tamil Nadu seemed to have unearthed a solid prospect for this year’s IPL. Could have found a team easily or at least could have been picked for the Twitter banters. His cricket is enough to make a case for him, and for me, easily one missed chance for teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad who saved 10 crore today but failed to get a bid.
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