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IPL auction 2018: Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals stick to own team-building style

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) focus on experience, picking Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir, while Rajasthan Royals (RR) pin faith on talent and proven team members like Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson at the Indian Premier League auction (IPL Auction 2018).

cricket Updated: Jan 27, 2018 21:32 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
IPL Auction 2018,Indian Premier League auciton,IPL acution
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) coach Stephen Fleming (right) with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team Chairman Amrit Thomas (left) and Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla pose after attending a press conference on the first day of the IPL auction 2018 in Bengaluru on Saturday.(AP)

Before they were suspended, Chennai Super Kings were known to be masters of the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction.

They had cracked the formula in the very opening edition, assembling a crack side that dominated the tournament under the captaincy of MS Dhoni. For them, the focus is on building the team around a core of Indian players.

They have stuck to the same strategy on return after a two-year ban. It though remains to be seen whether it would work like it used to. Building on the advantage of being allowed to retain their core group of Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, they added Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Karn Sharma and Harbhajan Singh – all proven performers on subcontinental tracks.

CSK’s seasoned hands

Among their foreign picks they have got back old hands Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir, a personal favourite of Dhoni, has also been signed up.

The only doubt about CSK is whether the players will be agile enough with most of them in their 30s. But CSK coach Stephen Fleming said they were clear about going with experience.

“We have valued experience. Young players come and go. MS and I are on the same wave length. There’s plenty of experience in the IPL. There is room for young players to come in, but we’re going for experience at this moment,” said the former New Zealand skipper.

“We’ve a multi-skilled team. It’s also very spin-dominated. The trend is to have wrist spinners and we have embraced that.”

On expected lines, CSK didn’t go big on R Ashwin, instead opting for Harbhajan Singh, 37.

“We picked up Harbhajan because Ashwin was going to go for a high price. We just chose a different direction. Sometimes, you have to put a price on people’s heads. It’s hard when you’re working your budget early in the auction. Ashwin has bowled well in Test cricket. We’re happy with our choice. The skill set is the same.”

Royals seek dynamism

Despite having a lot of money at their disposal, Rajasthan Royals, the other returning team, also stuck to their style of building a team. It was more about dynamism and talent than big names. After making a surprising splash by making the auction’s biggest bid of Rs 12.5 crore for Ben Stokes, they got Ajinkya Rahane cheaply, for Rs 4 crore. Sanju Samson and Stuart Binny too were bought to ensure four of the nine players bought so far have played for RR. All-rounders Jofra Archer of Barbados and Australia’s Darcy Short are not well known in India. But RR went all out for the two sensations in the ongoing Big Bash League.

RR have a lot of buying still to do, having picked just nine on Saturday. But they have the most purse remaining at Rs 23.5 crore to dominate the auction on Sunday morning.

No worry over Stokes

Speaking about their auction strategy and doubts over the availability of Ben Stokes, RR CEO Ranjit Barthakur said: “As far as we are concerned, the England Cricket Board has cleared Stokes for auction; he’s legally available, therefore we’ve bid for him. He’s a very important part.

“We’re trying to build the team and an all-rounder is absolutely important. Unlike other teams, we do not have very many players for retention. Our favourite blue-blooded player is Ajinkya. So we retained him with a Right-To-Match card.

“Stokes would have been equal to anyone we’d have had, had we retained any other player. In a start-up mode, we’re trying to invest up front and in the first half of the auction process, most of the star players seem to be there. Therefore we’re investing. There’s no change in strategy.”

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 21:27 IST