IPL Auction 2017: On 20th February 2017, 351 cricketers from all across the globe will go under the hammer at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bengaluru. While most cricketing fans are waiting for the main event to start on 5th April, keen followers of the sport would know that the auction itself has transformed into a major event. Over the last one decade, not just the team and the sport but even the franchises have evolved and there is a lot going in the auction room than you can see on the television sets.
It is no more about buying players, now it’s about getting the team right. Rajasthan Royals showed that to win trophies you don’t have to spend heavily but have to get your combination right, a strategy that other teams have adopted now. For example, Yuzvendra Chahal was bought for just Rs. 10 lakhs by Royal Challengers Bangalore and went on to pick 21 wickets from 13 matches at an impressive economy rate of 7.42. On the other hand, Pawan Negi who was bought for Rs. 8.50 crores last year scored just 57 runs and had a solitary wicket to his name. He was subsequently released by Delhi Daredevils and will go into this year’s auction with a base price of Rs. 50 lakhs.
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Another interesting game that is played during the auction is of ‘mind reading’. Owners continuously anticipate how much the other franchise is ready to pay for a particular player and try to force them to pay more for him. This is a dangerous strategy that can at times backfire as well. For example, Kings XI Punjab released Yuvraj Singh in 2011 with a hope to buy back for a lesser price. However, it got engaged in a bidding war with Pune Warriors India which finally purchased Yuvi for Rs. 18 crores. But, Kings XI Punjab went on bid till Rs. 16 crore which was almost double the amount they paid for the middle-order batsman.
Owners also check the availability of the players before betting on them. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were the most expensive players in the 2009 IPL auction but left for national duty after just 4 matches each which forced the coaching staff to rework the side’s combination. Now, the owners prefer to spend money on players who are available for the complete season.
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In the first auction, we witnessed a more wild bidding where the focus was on to get as many big names as possible. But, the sides have realised that the tournament is won with a stable team so now, they prefer to buy four big overseas players with 3 or 4 bargain buys to replace them in the case of an injury. Similarly, they have understood the importance of Indian players and all the more successful sides like Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and even Mumbai Indians have been on top because of their strong Indian contingent. So, while you are watching Richard Medley getting the bids for your favourite stars, don’t forget to notice the mind and money games being played by the team owners.