The auction of players for the ninth season of IPL T20 was another intense bidding war between team owners, with equal demand for marquee, as well as new players. Eight teams, which collectively had a purse of Rs 198 crore, bought 132 players at a cost of Rs 136 crore at the auction.
Australian batsman Shane Watson emerged the highest priced player at Rs 9.5 crore, while all-rounder Pawan Negi became the highest priced Indian player at Rs 8.5 crore.
Negi, who has just been named in the Indian team for the World T20 and is known to hit big sixes apart from his accurate wicket-to-wicket bowling, had a base price of only Rs 30 lakh. But the 23-year-old proved to be the most sought after, as Delhi Daredevils bought him for over 28 times the base price.
With a base price of R2 crore, Yuvraj Singh, who was the biggest Indian draw in the eight-player marquee bracket, notching up the highest price at the two previous auctions for the Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Delhi Daredevils, was bought by Sun Risers Hyderabad for R7 crore at today’s auction.
This year’s auction has two new franchises—RPG-owned Rising Pune Supergiants led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Intex mobiles’ Rajkot-based team Gujarat Lions, led by Suresh Raina.
This follows the exit of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, which were banned for two years as a result of the 2013 betting and match fixing scam.
Pune was the first to start bidding for all-rounder Shane Watson, after which the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) joined them. As the two teams engaged in a fierce bidding war, the selling price crossed the R5-crore mark. While Pune Super Giants bowed out at this stage, Mumbai Indians entered the ring and continued sparring with RCB. The Vijay Mallya-owned team finally snapped up Watson for R9.5 crore.
Gujarat Lions, which is a new team this year, kickstarted the player auctions for the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) and snapped up English batsman Kevin Pietersen for R3.5 crore. He was in the marquee pool of the players available for bidding at a base price of R2 crore.
The Gujarat Lions and Pune Super Giants went into the auction with R27 crore after they spent R39 crore in the IPL player draft, which took place earlier. Gujarat Lions opted for West Indian T20 specialist Dwayne Smith by paying R2.3 crore. They also added South African paceman Dale Steyn to their squad for R2.3 crore.
Speaking to reporters after the first set of auctions, Raghu Iyer, CEO of Rising Pune Supergiants, said, “We are happy with the two players we have bought. We are doing well and are in good form, and hope it carries on for the next three sessions of the auctions. Every individual team will be having their own strategy.”
Among the uncapped players who got highest money were Murugan Ashwin (R4.50 crore), Deepak Hooda (R4.20 crore), Karun Nair (R4 crore), Nathu Singh (R3.20 crore), Rishabh Pant (R1.90 crore), Ankit Singh Rajpoot (R 1.50 crore), Aditya Tare (R1.20 crore) and Eklavya Dwivedi (R1 crore).
Delhi-Daredevils purchased all-rounder Christopher Morris for a whopping R7 crore. TS Sekar of Delhi Daredevils said, “Morris was always part of our plan. After eight years of seeing IPL auctions we can see that teams have become smart enough to know when to enter the bid and when to pull the plug. It’s not like you have a plan and you straightaway enter the bid, but you can enter late after seeing how many people can hold on to the bid.”
The wicket-keepers’ category witnessed some intense bidding too. Young Indian keeper Sanju Samson, who had played an impressive game with Rajasthan Royals franchise, was snapped up by the Delhi Daredevils for R4.2 crore. Similarly, the in-form English wicket-keeper, Jos Buttler, with a base price of R1.5 crore, was purchased by Mumbai Indians for R3.8 crore. Similarly, former India wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik was sold to the Gujarat Lions for R2.3 crore.
Among all-rounders, Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan was sold to the Rising Pune Supergiants for a price of R1 crore. Another Indian all-rounder, Stuart Binny, who played for Rajasthan in previous editions, was snapped up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for a base price of R2 crore.
Mumbai fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni, was sold to the Gujarat Lions for R2 crore. Some of the better spinners in international cricket, including Nathan Lyon and Pragyan Ojha, were left unsold.
Delhi Daredevils had the maximum purse of R37.15 crore to shop from, while defending champions Mumbai Indians only had a kitty of R14.40 crore. Sunrisers Hyderabad also had R30.15 crore to shop for players, while KKR had only R17.95 crore. Kings XI Punjab had R23 crore, while Royal Challengers Bangalore could spend R21.6 crore.
Surprisingly, some of the leading batsmen didn’t find any takers. They include Indian test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, retired
Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene and South Africa’s Hashim Amla, New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill, Australian veterans Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin. There were 351 players in the auction ring, of which 230 were Indians. Richard Madley conducted the auctions.