Punjab Kings decided to break the bank to sign England’s T20 specialist Liam Livingstone, paying a staggering Rs 11.50 crore for him while Mumbai Indians, purely based on leap of faith, paid a whopping Rs 8 crore for an injured Jofra Archer despite his unavailability for the 2022 edition of the IPL. The teams went going big on current India players and largely based their decision on the form players from overseas with more focus on fast bowlers, not caring about reputations as the likes of Steve Smith, Aaron Finch, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma found out.
The two-day IPL auction ended on Sunday with Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings predictably making the hefty pay-outs with bigger purses in store while Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals now look formidable on batting front but slightly short in bowling arsenal.
Having roped in Livingstone, Punjab Kings also used its deep pockets to pick up West Indies all-rounder Odean Smith for Rs 6.5 crore. He was impressive in the recently concluded ODI series against India.
Sunrisers weren’t going to be left behind in bidding frenzy, roping in CPL sensation from the West Indies Romario Shepherd for Rs 7.75 crore based on his all-round skills.
Delhi’s bowling attack where Anrich Nortje will be partnered by Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed, Chetan Sakariya and Kuldeep Yadav doesn’t inspire highest confidence.
Having lost Kagiso Rabada on the first day to a rampaging Punjab Kings, Delhi invested 5.25 crore on Khaleel Ahmed, who is known to leak runs in slog overs and Rs 4.20 crore on left-armer Sakariya who pace is limited to 130s.
The duo cumulatively cost them Rs 9.45 crore which is more than what Punjab paid for Rabada.
Similarly for Mumbai Indians, Tymal Mills despite his T20 exploits, has been a big flop in Indian conditions as he gets ready to partner Jasprit Bumrah and Daniel Sims in absence of Archer for the year.
“So happy to have got him (Archer). So happy to have Jof and Boom making a lethal bowling attack although next year,” MI owner Akash Ambani confirmed that Archer indeed won’t play this edition.
MI is looking at Archer being one of their legends in the space vacated by Lasith Malinga and stay on for the next five to six years and are ready to sacrifice one year.
But Mumbai Indians’ x-factor player certainly was Singapore international of Australian origin, Tim David who was bought for Rs 8 crore.
David, who has played for RCB, is an all-rounder but known more for his big-hitting abilities. He produced 19 sixes in seven games for Multan Sultans in Pakistan Super League.
“Tim David is going to partner Kieron Pollard at number 5 and 6. Fortunately, he got a spell at RCB last year. so he has got experience of IPL.”
Lucknow Supergiants have prepared a good first eleven with likes KL Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stonis, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Jason Holder, Mark Wood and Avesh Khan but look short on back-up in terms of batting reserves.
Manan Vohra isn’t simply good enough having failed in IPL for ages now. But if their first XI clicks, they are the team to watch out for. It is understood that Gautam Gambhir will speak to sworn enemies Krunal Pandya and Deepak Hooda to ensure harmony in the teams.
Hooda had left his first-class team Baroda, alleging that Pandya senior had bullied him and threatened to destroy his career.
Rajasthan Royals in terms of bowling talent has the best resources with Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal as spinners along with Prasidh Krishna and Trent Boult as their first choice pacers.
With Navdeep saini as back-up, the bowling attack looks good and so does the batting where Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Shimron Hetmyer and Devdutt Padikkal pack quite a punch. The only weak link is lack of a genuine all-rounder.
CSK spent heavily (around 4 crore) on big-hitting batting all-rounder Shivam Dube but got New Zealander Devon Conway for a steal amount of Rs 1 crore base price and little known Sri Lankan spinner Mahesh Theeksana.
They have their core in place and Dhoni will perhaps depend on Adam Milne to do the job alongside Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja.
It would be interesting to note if Dhoni invests his time on young U-19 pacer Rajvardhan Hangargekar and builds him as one for the future.
While Venkatesh Iyer is a sure-shot opener in IPL, Ajinkya Rahane doesn’t inspire the highest confidence and only Shreyas Iyer and Andre Russell look like game-changers in the middle-order.
While Nitish Rana cost them a fortune, his struggles against quality pace bowling and short-pitched stuff is well documented even if he is slotted to open like last year.
Also Sheldon Jackson, a dedicated domestic performer doesn’t have a lot of experience and KKR lost a bidding frenzy to Sunrisers Hyderabad, going for Nicholas Pooran (10.75 crore).
Finally, late in the day, they got Sam Billings for Rs 2 crore and the controversial but very talented Alex Hales for Rs 1.5 crore.
But both beng foreign recruits, the choice of four overseas players becomes a tricky one in the absence of a good Indian glovesman.
However with Pat Cummins, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Shivam Mavi they make a good bowling attack and if Russell is fit to bowl, it just adds to the sting.
The team that impressed least at the auction was Gujarat Titans and their planning for the auction, prepared by Director of Cricket Vikram Solanki, was not clear.
Till last hour of two-day auction, Titans didn’t have a keeper in its rolls and finally grabbed Wriddhiman Saha for Rs 1.90 crore, beating Chennai Super Kings. They also bid for Matthew Wade for Rs 2.40 crore.
In their batting department, they have Shubman Gill, Jason Roy as only specialist batters with skipper Hardik Pandya as the most experienced IPL player.
The only other player was Abhinav Manohar before they understood their desperation and went for David Miller, who fetched a cool Rs 3 crore after going unsold on first day.
It was therefore understandable that if Miller was so sought after, then why didn’t he get picked in first place.
In all it was an IPL auction where most of the marquee buys showed a prudent approach from the franchises while some like every year defied logic. Livingstone after a flop IPL is one such buy.
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