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Kings XI Punjab’s early bird tactics net them big gains in IPL player auction

Virender Sehwag as mentor helped Kings XI Punjab make crucial early buys like R Ashwin, Karun Nair and KL Rahul to build a strong unit and challenge for the IPL 2018 title.

cricket Updated: Jan 27, 2018 23:57 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Bangalore
IPL auction 2018,IPL auction,Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab mentor Virender Sehwag and Ness Wadia during the first day of the IPL auction 2018 in Bangalore on Saturday.(BCCI )

Virender Sehwag knows the value of a solid start. On Saturday, the explosive ex-India opener played a typical innings to help his franchise Kings XI Punjab cover solid ground and match heavyweights who had the advantage of retention of players. (IPL AUCTION DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS)

While there have been impact foreign players, the importance of building the core group around Indian players is not lost on anyone. That’s been the success formula in Indian Premier League.

(Read | IPL auction 2018: Rajasthan Royals breaks bank for Ben Stokes; KL Rahul, Manish Pandey win big bucks)

Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings started the auction with a massive edge, having retained three top Indians. MI had Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah while CSK had an equally powerful trio of MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja. It was up to the others to cover ground.

KXIP TAKE OFF

While some franchises chose to play the waiting game, Kings XI were all aggression from ball one. The touch of KXIP mentor Sehwag was obvious. Their strategy was clear – not to worry about the higher base price and go for the big guns as soon as they were put up.

(Read | IPL auction 2018: Twitterati troll Kolkata Knight Riders for snubbing Gautam Gambhir)

With R Ashwin, KL Rahul, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Yuvraj Singh and Mayank Agarwal in their line-up, they now boast of an equally strong Indian core group. The six have the experience and confidence. Though they have only 10 players in their line-up so far, they have enough purse left (Rs 21.9 crore, the second highest balance after Rajasthan Royals’ Rs 23.5 crore) to complete their squad. In Ashwin, they have a solid captaincy option.

The big factor in this auction was going to be the confidence teams would show in the uncapped Indians and the most of the franchises thus went for them.

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

But they are yet to be proven at the top level. Kings XI have pouched the safe bets. If Yuvraj also finds his touch, Kings XI surely will be a team to watch out for in IPL 2018.

SUNRISERS SOLID IN BUYING

Sunrisers Hyderabad, the 2016 champions, also made early inroads and then added some good names in the second half. They have picked proven players with the conditions in mind. And with 16 players already in their bag, they are close to completing their squad.

(Read | Rashid Khan overshadows R Ashwin in IPL auction 2018, stays with Sunrisers Hyderabad)

The squad strength must be between 18 to 25.

The highlight was their use of the Right-To-Match card. They picked Shikhar Dhawan to ensure their main strength of a solid opening combination, David Warner and Dhawan, remained intact. They then did well to keep enough in their kitty to use their second RTM for Afghan leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan.

It challenging part of this auction was that players with different specialties were mixed up and precious talent had been listed to come deeper into the two-day process. Hence, it was important to get the right players at the right price.

(Read | IPL auction 2018: Law of diminishing returns strikes Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh)

KKR COUGH UP TOO MUCH

It was something Kolkata Knight Riders didn’t get right. They ended up paying big for every one of their first six buys. The lowest was Robin Uthappa, whom they bought back at Rs 6.40 crore. KKR have picked up 12 players so far for Rs 72.4 crore and are left with just Rs 7.6 cr to complete their squad.

For Royal Challengers Bangalore, it was a mixed bag. Their move to get back leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal via RTM worked well as they got the star bowler cheaply at Rs 6 crore. But they lost KL Rahul to Kings XI as the price for RTM got too high.

Mumbai Indians had a comparatively quiet day. They had to cough up huge sums for all-rounder Krunal Pandya (Rs 8.8 crore) and wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan (Rs 6.2 crore).

Delhi Daredevils have the numbers but the team coached by Ricky Ponting need to add a couple of good buys on Sunday to get a formidable look.

First Published: Jan 27, 2018 22:07 IST