IPL auction 2021: At Rs 16.25 crore, South African all-rounder Chris Morris is costliest buy ever

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February 19, 2021 5:00 AM

Despite being an IPL heavyweight, the title has remained elusive to RCB. They have Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers up the order and needed an impact player lower down. Maxwell fitted the bill.

Among the Indian players, off-spinner K Gowtham became a millionaire through CSK’s Rs 9.25 crore buy while Punjab signed uncapped Tamil Nadu batsman Shahrukh Khan for Rs 5.25 crore.Among the Indian players, off-spinner K Gowtham became a millionaire through CSK’s Rs 9.25 crore buy while Punjab signed uncapped Tamil Nadu batsman Shahrukh Khan for Rs 5.25 crore.

Edging past Yuvraj Singh’s Rs 16-crore contract for Delhi Daredevils in 2015, South African allrounder Chris Morris became the most expensive IPL player ever, going for Rs 16.25 crore to Rajasthan Royals at the Twenty20 league’s high-profile annual auction Thursday.

New Zealand allrounder Kyle Jamieson came close but fell short, with Royal Challengers Bangalore taking him for Rs 15 crore. After a fierce bidding war between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and RCB, Australian Glenn Maxwell was sold to the Bengaluru-based franchise for Rs 14.25 crore. At Rs 14 crore, CSK pulled out of the race.

In other big buys, Kings XI Punjab, renamed as Punjab Kings, bagged Australian pacer Jhye Richardson for Rs 14 crore, and spent Rs 8 crore for uncapped Aussie fast bowler Riley Meredith.

Also Read | IPL 2021 Players Auction LIVE: Top 5 buys – Morris, Jamieson, Maxwell, Richardson & Gowtham; MI buy Arjun Tendulkar

Among the Indian players, off-spinner K Gowtham became a millionaire through CSK’s Rs 9.25 crore buy while Punjab signed uncapped Tamil Nadu batsman Shahrukh Khan for Rs 5.25 crore.

In all, the 2021 IPL auction at Chennai threw up fireworks and surprises despite not being a full auction and the majority of the teams already having a settled core group.

Morris is a hard-hitting batsman and a top death-overs bowler. And RCB had released him this term, hoping to resign him at a lesser amount than the Rs 10 crore it had shelled out last year. Today, the franchise was firmly in the bidding war, along with Mumbai Indians, Punjab and Royals. But Royals were determined to have him, especially with quality pace-bowling allrounders at a premium and their availability determining the auction dynamics.

“He (Morris) is a quality bowler through all phases of the game, and can win us games with the bat too. We did stretch, that was our last bid, luckily Kings held back. Delighted to have him back with the Royals,” the franchise CEO Jake Lush McRum said.

Death-overs bowling had been a weak area for Royals last year, with only England’s Jofra Archer to fall back on. The acquisitions of Morris and Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman indicated that they wanted to plug the void.

Morris hasn’t played any competitive cricket after last year’s IPL. With an injury history, the 33-year-old missed the first matches of the tournament in the UAE and turned up only in nine matches, scoring 34 runs and taking 11 wickets at an economy rate of 6.63.

As a franchise official told The Indian Express on auction eve: “The entire auction dynamics depend on requirements and utility. If a team is looking to have a certain type of player, then subject to the purse available, it can go big to have him.”

Royals came to the auction with Rs 37.85 crore in their kitty. Apart from death-overs bowling, they wanted to have a big-hitting Indian batsman in the middle-order who could bowl as well. Shivam Dube at Rs 4.4 crore might serve their requirement.

Maxwell had an underwhelming IPL last year, with 108 runs from 13 matches and just 3 wicket. But in the T20I series against India Down Under that followed the IPL, he scored at a strike-rate of 150. And in the ODI series against India, he upped his strike-rate to 194.18, scoring 167 runs in three matches.

“It very much depends on what role each team wants him (Maxwell) to play. In our team he could be used very much as (a) finisher role. Obviously he is a multi-skilled player, he is good in the field and obviously he is able to bowl off-spin. We all know how good a touch he (is in) away from the IPL,” RCB director of cricket Mike Hesson said at the press conference.

Immediately after he was secured by RCB, Maxwell tweeted: “Looking forward to joining @RCBTweets for this years @IPL Can’t wait to put everything I have in to helping us lift the trophy!”

Despite being an IPL heavyweight, the title has remained elusive to RCB. They have Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers up the order and needed an impact player lower down. Maxwell fitted the bill.

CSK, too, badly wanted him on board, but after a point their available auction purse, Rs 19.90 crore, became an impediment. As a franchise insider hinted Wednesday, the three-time champions were looking to rope in a couple of spin allrounders – one of them a big-hitter – to make the side more balanced. They spent more than 16 crore from their auction purse on Moeen Ali (Rs 7 crore) and Gowtham.

“Some of the areas where we were focusing on, allrounders and a little bit of power-hitting. Moeen has always contributed with both bat and ball. We are happy with the buys,” CSK bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji said.

Jamieson made an impact during India’s tour of New Zealand in early 2020. He was the most economical bowler in the ODI series. He troubled the Indian batsmen through steep bounce he extracted off the decks. In the recently concluded Test series against Pakistan, the 26-year-old was in top form, bagging a couple of five-fors.

But Jamieson is a newbie in Indian conditions, like Richardson and Meredith. Then again, both are tearaway quicks and after Anrich Nortje’s success for Delhi Capitals in the last year’s IPL, who hurled thunderbolts in excess of 150kph, teams seem to have fallen for pace.

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