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IPL 2018 Auction – Talking Points from Day 2

IPL 2018 Auction – Talking Points from Day 2

2+2 = 4

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s persistence to have two Afghanistan players in their set-up last season worked big time. And not surprisingly, a lot of other franchises took interest in Afghanistan players this time around and short-listed them. Apart from Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, two more players – Mujeeb Zadran and Zahir Khan – were bought at the IPL auction this year.

While the bidding war for slow left-armer Zahir Khan didn’t last long, mystery spinner Mujeeb Zadran was sold for as high as Rs 4 Crore. Delhi Daredevils went in an intense bidding war with Kings XI Punjab before losing it to the former for the lack of money in the purse.

While Afghanistan are taking huge strides in the cricketing world, in IPL they are quickly grabbing eyeballs, much like how the Windies players have been doing every year. The success of the Afghanistan duo last year has also given franchises the confidence to invest in talents from Associate Nations. Nepal has become the first beneficiary of that.

Welcome, Nepal

Michael Clarke isn’t a part of Delhi Daredevils’ scouting team. In fact, he has got nothing to do with IPL at all. However, DD, a 16-year old cricketer from Nepal and Nepal cricket would be thankful to the former Australian skipper from bringing all of them together.

It was when the Daredevils’ scouting team watched Sandeep Lamichhane’s bowling video shared by Clarke on Twitter that they were interested. They asked the 16-year old to come for the trials where they were impressed by his bowling. A member of the Daredevils’ coaching set-up said, “He can spin the ball both ways at good pace, which is what impressed us the most. The thing about such talents is that you have to catch them young. Once they come into limelight, their prices sky-rocket and it becomes difficult for us to get them again. We’ve had the experience of losing out on Virat Kohli in 2008, and don’t want to risk it again. We see Lamichhane as a player for the future. We are really impressed with him.”

Another member of the Daredevils’ set-up at the auction heaped praise on the teenager and hailed the moment as a big step forward for Nepal cricket. “We’ve seen this with Afghanistan last year. When two of their players played in the IPL, they became big stars. It inspired a lot of people back in their country and made the sport popular. Now, they have even reached the semifinals of the Under-19 World Cup. In that way, this is also a step forward for Nepal cricket.”

Rajiv Shukla, chairman of IPL’s governing council, also echoed his views and was chuffed with the entry of a Nepal player in the tournament.

Dilli mein boundary door nahi

After a really long time, Delhi Daredevils would be happy with the eventual result of the auction. They have assembled a power-packed line-up, filled with strokemakers. “It was a conscious decision to have big hitters in the side,” a source from the Delhi Daredevils set-up admitted.

The decision came at the back of head coach Ricky Ponting’s aim to make Ferozshah Kotla their fortress and ensure the side wins all their home matches, which wasn’t happening in the past. On advice from Gautam Gambhir, it was decided that the best way to go about it was to have big hitters whose edges can also go over the boundary ropes since the boundaries are small at the home venue.

The decision to have an experienced captain in Gambhir and build a young team around him was the plan. And as it turned out, they managed to execute that with a great degree of success. “Every year, we buy players and then select the captain. This year, we decided on the captain and then built a team around him. We were in touch with Gautam Gambhir and spoken about what we wanted.

“We had told him that we won’t be able to have him if the bid for him would go higher than Rs 7-8 Crores. Luckily, the bidding for him wasn’t as strong and we managed to bag him.,” he added.

In Shreyas Iyer, Colin Munro, Glenn Maxwell, Rishabh Pant, Jason Roy and Chris Morris, they have one of the most destructive batting units. Now all that remains to be seen is how well the plan works.

Third time, lucky

It’s not every time that the call of ‘sold’ in an IPL auction is met with a round of applause from all teams. They usually lose out on players or are just not interested in them. But it happened in the dying minutes of the 2018 auction when Kings XI Punjab showed interest in Chris Gayle after the West Indian had gone unsold in the previous two rounds.

The big Jamaican is one of the iconic players of the IPL. However, given how franchises have matured in their auction process, giving little regard to reputation, it came as no surprise when two of the biggest names in T20 cricket – Gayle and Malinga – went unsold on the basis of their current form and fitness.

The question, however, is – Did Kings XI Punjab really need him? Could that Rs 2 Crore spent on him been used more wisely?

Nonetheless, just for then, their buy was met by cheers even from their rivals. They were excited too.

Who will ‘keep’ it safe?

While Kings XI Punjab would be reasonably happy with how the auction panned out, giving them a good number of players in almost all departments, they failed at a few crucial areas. Primary among them was the absence of a backup wicketkeeper. Firstly, for a tournament that runs for two months, it’s never a good idea to not have back-ups, especially for a specialist position like a wicketkeeper. Secondly, It only becomes more complicated when you realise that their only ‘keeping option is KL Rahul – who at best, is a back-up ‘keeper.

If Rahul gets injured, which isn’t an alien space for him, or has a bad run of form, it remains to be seen who will be given the unfamiliar responsibility with the gloves. For a team which reaped benefits of having a good ‘keeper (Wriddhiman Saha) last season – will realise the error, whether in judgement or absent-mindedness, it was bizarre that they overlooked in the wicketkeeping department.

Spinning it right?

No, the errors didn’t end there for Kings XI Punjab. While world over, wrist spinners are in demand in limited overs cricket, Kings XI Punjab decided to have just one – the unimpressive Pardeep Sahu. He has been with Kings XI Punjab for quite some time now, but his efforts earlier still beg the question – is he a batsman who can bowl nor a bowler who can bat?

Having begun their hunt for players with the retained Axar Patel and the marquee Ravichandran Ashwin, there was always going to be very little place to fit in another spinner. But there is surely a lot of evidence behind the experts’ views that wrist spinners are the need of the hour. With over Rs 2 Crore in their purse going into the final round, KXIP had the opportunity to make their squad far more stronger and versatile. But they let it slip.

Zero-balance policy

With 18 players in the team and only Rs 30 lakh left to spend, Kolkata Knight Riders had very few options left. And if there was applause by all franchises for a buy apart from Chris Gayle, it was for the little-known West Indian Javon Searles, who was KKR’s final buy – for all they had left in the account.

On paper, Kolkata Knight Riders look feeble on various counts, nothing more noticeable than an experienced batting line-up and pace attack. To make matters worse, their reserve is also not too large. Going big on players early on in the auction, left them with little very little to spend in the end, and purchasing Mitchell Johnson towards the end set them back by Rs 2 Crore.

What they do have, however, are some of the most exciting young talents in the country – Shubham Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shubhman Gill. They have bought them young, hoping that they will be the future stars. It’s a big gamble that they have taken by investing heavily on them. However, it has been seen several times in the past how the best of Under-19 players wither away when they play higher level cricket. If the youngsters fail to live up to the challenge, Kolkata Knight Riders will have a tough time in the IPL.

Not just on the playing front, but even the kind of players they have on offer, there is no one with a real captaincy background in their set-up. Venky Mysore, , CEO of KKR, however, is optimistic of the think-tank and the team management coming up with a good solution. “When Rohit Sharma was appointed as Mumbai Indians captain, what was his captaincy experience? And look now, he has led the side to two title wins. We will also create leaders.”

Mysore admits that he is ‘kicked’ by the buys they have made.

What does the future hold?

The mega auctions every three years allow all franchises to restructure their teams and re-strategize their plans. It allows the teams to come back on a level playing field – wiser and stronger. However, with over 1,000 players registering for the auction and over 500 getting short-listed – most of them being uncapped with little interest from the franchise, the viewing becomes tiresome and the auction stretches with a lot more unsold player. IPL Governing Council’s COO Hemang Amin has suggested that an idea of doing away uncapped players in mega auctions is one of the ideas floating around. As per the suggestion, uncapped players would be included through a draft system.

“Going forward, the thinking is that we will reduce, may be not have mega auctions, but consider having draft system for new players to come in, which acts as feeder system to teams,” Amin said. “Hence, IPL GC is thinking along the lines of how to cut down on the big auction and have the continuity with teams.”

Richard Madlee, the auctioneer, gave his inputs on the issue as well and felt that everyone deserves a chance to be sold. “It is unique in the fact that the base prices are revealed that does not happen in any other auctions. So, when you go through the accelerated process and re-accelerated process, the entire process is incredibly open,” he said.

“It is tricky, but you got to give every player every opportunity of being sold. This is the biggest day in their lives.”

An all-round start-up

Rajasthan Royals are happy to be termed the ‘start-up side’ of the IPL after two years in oblivion for being ‘bad boys’.

There were two standout features of their buys in the 2018 IPL auction. One was about going big – having bought the most expensive foreign (Ben Stokes) and Indian players (Jaydev Unadkat) respectively. While the England all-rounder’s demand was on expected lines, few would have even come to predicting Unadkat’s price.

Explaining the reason for Unadkat’s high price, a Rajasthan Royals’ representative said, “In such a short career, Unadkat has reached 100 wickets and is a strike bowler. He did well last year, finishing as the highest wicket-taker for RPS. If you look at our team, we have got a good batting line-up, but we lacked death bowling and spin bowling. We tried to differentiate our entire team. Our team that does our analytics along with Zubin [Bharucha] have done well. We didn’t go for emotional reasons. Preity (KXIP) just bid us up.”

The other stand out feature of their buys was investing heavily in uncapped foreign all-rounders. They bid strongly for Australia’s D’Arcy Short and Windies’ Jofra Archer to go with a slew of Indian allrounders – K Gowtham, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Ankit Sharma, S Midhun and Mahipal Lomror. All of this without even taking Stokes into the equation.

There is a distinct Rising Pune Supergiants flavour to the current Rajasthan Royals set-up. But there is also something very Rajasthan Royals like in it.

In the end, it didn’t go all south – of fixing ends and saving big

At the end of the opening day of the auction, it seemed Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore had fallen off the competition with their buys. While CSK’s approach was more planned with a view to have experienced players, resulting in a plethora of 30+ aged cricketers in the squad, RCB kept filling up spots that were already filled.

However, both the teams recovered well on the second day to come up with reasonably balanced squads. RCB filled up all the departments with good buys and backups, while CSK beefed up their spin department – in what they are hoping to be their winning strategy – with some top quality picks. They also spent well on some good frontline quicks. CSK did all of that while saving as much as Rs 6.5 Crore from their purse.

How well their plans work out remains to be seen, but there are also some evident drawbacks. With RCB, the middle order still has reasonably weaker options. In the past, their over-reliance on the top order has backfired. It remains to be seen how effective their plans eventually prove to be. For now, both sides would be happy that their auction didn’t go all south.

Source: cricbuzz.com

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