The all-rounders and fast bowlers, especially left-arm pacers, were much in demand in the Indian Premier League auction on Monday as England’s Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills, and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan hogged the headlines. (IPL auction, highlights)
Rising Pune Supergiants broke the bank to get Stokes at Rs 14.5 crores, making him the most expensive overseas player ever bought at an IPL auction --- Aussie Shane Watson went for Rs 9.5 crore in 2016 --- and Royal Challengers Bangalore got T20 specialist fast bowler Mills for Rs 12 crore, 12 times his base price.
But the story of the day was Afghanistan’s 18-year-old leg-spinner, Rashid, going for Rs 4 crore by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
LESSER KNOWN INDIANS IN DEMAND
Among the Indians, Railways leg-break bowler Karn Sharma was bagged by Mumbai Indians for Rs 3.2 crore and Tamil Nadu left-arm pacer T Natarajan was picked for Rs 3 crore by Kings XI Punjab. Known as a death-overs specialist with accurate yorkers, Natarajan came into focus in the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League and went on to shine in the Ranji Trophy.
It was a big pay day for Karnataka all-rounder K Gowtham, Rajasthan left-arm pacer Aniket Choudhary and all-rounder Pawan Negi as well. Gowtham and Choudhary were picked for Rs 2 crore by Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively, Pawan Negi was bought by RCB for Rs 1 crore. Bought for a staggering Rs 8.5 crore last time by Delhi Daredevils and then released, the price tag this time must have come as a big relief for Negi.
After going unsold in the first round, pacers Mohammad Siraj and Varun Aaron were bought for good prices when put up for bidding the second time. Siraj was picked by Sunrisers for Rs 2.6 crore and Aaron by Kings XI for Rs 2.8 crore.
Among the foreigners to benefit in the second bidding, Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile was purchased by Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 3.5 crore.
The more established names like Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha, Cheteshwar Pujara, Parvez Rasool and RP Singh went unsold. Ishant’s high base price of Rs 2 crore seemed to have backfired.
ENGLAND PLAYERS DOMINATE
The England players were fresh in memory of Indian franchises and Stokes, Mills, Chris Woakes, Eoin Morgan, Chris Jordan and Jason Roy profited. Woakes was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 4.2 crore while Morgan (Rs 2 crore), Jordan (Rs 50 lakh) and Roy (Rs 1 crore) were picked at their base price by Kings XI Punjab, Gujarat Lions and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively.
Stokes was outstanding throughout on the tour of India, across formats, which ended last month. The all-rounder went for only Rs 1.5 crore less than the all-time highest bid of Rs 16 crore for Yuvraj Singh.
Stokes, however, will not be part of it in the crucial knockout stages as England players are likely to leave for national duty in the first week of May.
Pune coach Stephen Fleming defended their move to go all out for the all-rounder. “We now are in a situation to back youngsters and we have some big-time players. There is an element of risk when you spend big-time money, but we are ready to take that risk. We look strong on paper. It’s the top eight that you really have to respect. You have got three captains so you have leadership. We have bowlers, all-rounders in Mitch Marsh and Stokes,” said Fleming at the auction.
Delhi Daredevils made the early buys, getting two tearaway fast bowlers and two all-rounders. Their best pick was South Africa pace sensation Kagiso Rabada, for Rs 5 crore. While there was no doubt about Rabada going big, Delhi also paid a whopping Rs 4.5 crore for Australian Pat Cummins. Cummins’ career has been hampered by injuries but he is capable of extreme pace when fit. He had showed how effective he can be when he had rattled India at the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka, bouncing them out at the R Pramadasa Stadium, claiming both Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in a spell of 4-0-16-2.
FOREIGN FAST BOWLERS IN DEMAND
Overall, as expected, foreign fast bowlers were the most in demand, with left-arm pacers making hay. Apart from Mills, Rabada and Cummins, there was strong bidding for Trent Boult. The Kiwi left-arm pacer, who can swing the ball at pace, was snapped up by Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 5 crore. Mitchell Johnson also got sold, at his base price of Rs 2 crore, to his old club Mumbai Indians. Boult was part of the winning team Sunrisers Hyderabad last season and Johnson had helped Mumbai Indians win in 2013.
MILLS MAKES HAY
Mills benefitted as a lot of franchises got into bidding for him. Mumbai Indians, Punjab and KKR all stretched the price before RCB could get their man. RCB needed a replacement for Australia spearhead Mitchell Starc, and went on to get Mills for what is the highest price for a bowler in IPL auction. RCB had Rs 5 crore added to their purse after losing Starc on auction eve. Apart from being a like for like replacement, the advantage of having the left-arm quick is that, unlike other England cricketers, Mills will be available throughout the season.
“He can bowl at 150 kph and has a really good slower ball. I saw him at the Big Bash first hand,” said RCB coach Daniel Vettori.
AFGHANISTAN’S FIRST IPL PLAYERS
All-rounder Mohammad Nabi became the first Afghanistan player to be picked in the auction. An off-spinner and middle-order batsman, Nabi has been the backbone of the Afghanistan team for the last five years. Sunrisers bought him, but surprisingly splurged Rs 4 crore for his younger team mate, Rashid Khan.