Welcome to a series, where we look back at a mind-puzzling moment in the history of the game and tweak it a little bit to make it mind-boggling. This week, we are looking at what would have happened had Delhi Daredevils bought Agra pacer Deepak Chahar ahead of CSK in the 2018 IPL Auction.
The year is 2018, we are at the venue of the Auction for the 2018 edition of IPL, and the next name on the list is Deepak Chahar. CSK raise their paddle for the swing-bowler and they look like they will get away with the pacer but no, there’s Delhi, who come swooping in to get the swing bowler for just Rs 1 crore. Phoof, this makes Chennai change their plans, as they go all-out for Mohammed Siraj, fighting against RCB for his signature and that costs them Rs 2.8 crores. Did CSK get their man? Yes!
Elsewhere, in a bid to strengthen their middle-order with Indian contingent, Sunrisers raise their tag for Kedar Jadhav, who is one of the players CSK have earmarked to play for them. However, SRH outbid CSK and make Jadhav their player, in the middle-order for a sum of Rs 9 crore, which then forces the men in Yellow to sign Manish Pandey for a little over 11 crore. There are still two more wicket-keepers waiting to be picked - Nicholas Pooran and Sam Billings. CSK picks up Pooran for his base price of 50 lakhs while Billings goes to KKR for Rs 1 crore.
In just his first appearance for the franchise, Pandey walks in at 51/4, with CSK in shambles against defending champions Mumbai Indians. Alongside Ravindra Jadeja, the right-hander puts on a 50-run partnership before Jadeja holes out to the deep fielder. With the pressure mounting on them, Pandey slaps a long-hop from Krunal Pandya to the deep fielder, who misses a simple catch, which eventually goes on to cost Mumbai the encounter, as CSK win the game by five wickets, with Pandey unbeaten on 80.
Away in Hyderabad, Kedar Jadhav has a tricky start to his life in Orange, with a seven-ball duck against Mumbai Indians in the second encounter. Meanwhile in Delhi, under Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy, Deepak Chahar is entrusted with the new ball, against KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. The result? A wicket off the first over as Chahar’s in-swinger catches Agarwal off-guard, for a 5-ball seven. But even that start isn’t enough as KL Rahul leads KXIP to an easy victory. As the season goes by, Jadhav is still struggling to catch a break, Chahar continues to swing his way through the batsmen while Delhi continues to struggle and Pandey comes up with a stellar effort to take CSK to the play-off stage as Siraj becomes CSK’s new-ball bowler.
With 468 runs, Pandey’s efforts lead CSK to another playoff appearance, alongside Siraj’s 16 wickets, which makes the franchise a force to reckon with, in the bowling department. However, against them in the first Qualifier, there is a strong and determined Mumbai side, who they beat in the opening game. This time too a similar result prevails, as MS Dhoni finishes the innings with a six for the franchise, taking them to the final while Delhi finishes last. While Mumbai fight off KKR challenge to reach the final, they face their nemesis Chennai in the final. Siraj’s determined efforts in the final, alongside a strong-batting display, ensure that CSK win their third title, their first since returning to the IPL. On the back of his impressive performance, the selectors also include Manish Pandey in the scheme of things but that costs Kedar his place in the playing XI.
After a tide and ride of a season, we all now welcome you to the 2019 IPL. What is in store for us this season? Mumbai fell agonisingly close last season, they definitely need a pace-bowler or two in the setup. CSK have a near-perfect squad but would Siraj be a one-season wonder? And if you're KXIP, this season is massive, given that the bowling attack has lacked tooth. The place to make it all alright? IPL Auction! The first name up on the list is Barinder Sran and Mumbai Indians come charging in, they need him alright and fight it out with CSK before they seal the deal.
Once again tied by the market forces, the three-time IPL winners are left with no other choice but to compete head-to-head with Kings XI Punjab for signing Mohammed Shami, another option earmarked by the franchise. KXIP, who missed out on Shami, have their eyes set out for Lasith Malinga, who they capture with just their first and opening bid for 2 crores. But to balance out the foreign and Indian pace attack, Punjab also add former player Mohit Sharma to the setup, both bowlers at the price of 5 crore, that Chennai spent on Shami. Alongside that, the franchise also ropes in English all-rounder Sam Curran for 9 crore, prompting all eyes to turn to their corner.
From the outset, a happy Ravichandran Ashwin leads his side in their clash against Rajasthan Royals, knowing that they are tackling an issue one by one. After being put to bat first, a determined Chris Gayle and a cameo from Sarfaraz Khan take them to 184 after the first innings. In the second, a Malinga hattrick ensures Royals are reduced to 5/4, as they crash to an 84-run loss in their first encounter. On the other hand, at the Capitals, Chahar continues to get up on the leaderboard, picking up wickets at a steady pace for the Shreyas Iyer-led side, with 12 wickets going into the sixth fixture of their season.
A strenuous group stage later, CSK, KXIP, DC and MI have reached the play-off stage. Chennai finish at the top of the table and clash against Mumbai in the first qualifier before Delhi and KXIP take on each other in the eliminator. While Chahar does pick up a four-fer against KXIP, the all-round brilliance from Sam Curran ensures that KXIP get to a total of 160, an above-par total on the surface. In reply, Delhi were evidently struggling to keep pace with Lasith Malinga, Sam Curran and the bowling brilliance from Ravichandran Ashwin, as Punjab surge into the second qualifier against Mumbai, who lost Qualifier 1 against CSK.
Against Mumbai, in the second eliminator, the scores are tied before KL Rahul’s show in the super over takes them to the final against CSK but even that isn't suffice enough, as CSK take up the throne yet again, going one above Mumbai, with Suresh Raina’s brilliance in the final, as he takes down the KXIP bowlers, scoring a 29-ball 84.
With teams relatively have a settled squad, the 2020 IPL season is going to be one of the tightest tournaments in the history of IPL, announces the host broadcasters. KXIP retain their skipper Ravichandran Ashwin and bulk of the squad, a similar case to Delhi Capitals, who, after the appointment of Shreyas Iyer as skipper in 2019, have improved the squad dramatically. However, for CSK, their chances of completing the historic treble is damaged, with Suresh Raina pulling himself out of the tournament. At the auction earlier, CSK managed to get Chris Woakes, an all-rounder that they had long desired to pick in the squad.
But with Raina’s late decision, CSK were forced into making a quick decision, with the franchise choosing to replace the left-handed Raina with Karnataka’s Roham Kadam, in the middle-order. While Kadam does not get a run in the tournament, Woakes rules himself out of the tournament, which makes it extremely difficult for Chennai, leaving them with no choice but to pick Saffer Anrich Nortje as replacement.
Delhi finish the group stage of the tournament topping the table, while Mumbai find themselves second on the table. CSK, on the other hand, finish third as KXIP come from behind to seal the last spot for the playoffs. In the first qualifier, Delhi, even after possessing one of the best squads, fail against Mumbai before they take on KXIP in the eliminator, with the winners playing the final against the three-time champions, Mumbai. Ashwin, leading the side from the front, reduces Delhi top-order to 31/4 but Iyer leads Delhi in turbulent times to take them home in a 141 run-chase.
Awaiting them in the final are a Mumbai side vying to win their fourth IPL title. Delhi win the toss, elect to bowl first in the encounter, and the result was immediate - a Chahar master-class in swinging conditions. Rohit, de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav all are sent back early on, with the score just reading 8/3. Ishan Kishan and Kieron Pollard are Mumbai’s only chance, but Amit Mishra spins his web and Mumbai are bowled out for just 120 in the final. In the most one-sided manner, Jason Roy and Shikhar Dhawan score 80 runs for the first wicket before Iyer walks out and finishes the game off for the franchise, leading the side to its first IPL title. The wait is finally over and the celebration finally starts in Delhi after 13 years.