IPL’s mega auction: The buys, balance and providing the right spin | cricket

When 10 franchises go after resources slotted for eight squads until the last season, it is bound to affect strategy. Some franchises broke the bank for their preferred players, some possibly settled for second picks while others waited until the last round to pick players at their base price in accelerated bidding.

Overall, this Indian Premier League (IPL) auction was heavily Indian-centric, with only 67 of the 204 buys overseas players. All the marquee Indian players expectedly fetched good bids, some of them for leadership roles like Shreyas Iyer ( 12.25 crore for KKR) and Shikhar Dhawan ( 8.25 crore for Punjab Kings). Proven performers too fared well. Shardul Thakur went for 10.75 crore (Delhi Capitals), Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin went for 6 crore and 5 crore respectively (both Rajasthan Royals) and Mohammed Shami for 6.25 crore (Gujarat Titans).

But the next set of expensive buys is eye-popping. Three of the most expensive uncapped Indian players in IPL history were bought this time: Avesh Khan went for 10 crore to Lucknow Super Giants, Shahrukh Khan for 9 crore to Punjab Kings and Rahul Tewatia for 9 crore to Gujarat Titans. Avesh is 25, Shahrukh 26 and Tewatia 28. Even if an India game comes their way now, long international careers seem to be a difficult prospect. But their paychecks shouldn’t be affected as long as they do their job in IPL. The surplus of talent that IPL started creating post 2015 (the year Rahul Dravid took over the U-19 and ‘A’ teams) is finally yielding better bids than some of the more consistent India internationals. Prasid Krishna ( 10 crore for RR), Khaleel Ahmed ( 5.25 crore for DC), Shivam Mavi ( 7.5 crore for KKR), Rahul Tripathi ( 8.5 crore for SRH) and Harshal Patel ( 10.75 crore for RCB) are glowing examples of that.

Some teams are not even looking at the immediate future. Mumbai Indians, the most successful team in the business, are okay to wait on Jofra Archer to be fit for next season. They were also ready to invest in Dewald Brevis, 18, and Tilak Varma, 19, looking at their long-term prospects. Add all this to the existing core of Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah, Kieron Pollard and Suryakumar Yadav and they cover all the bases except for the gaping hole left by spinners Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar.

Paucity of quality spinners could affect quite a few teams after Rajasthan Royals pulled off a coup by picking Ashwin and Chahal. Sunrisers Hyderabad will be left high and dry after releasing Rashid Khan (he has gone to Gujarat Titans) as neither Washington Sundar nor Shreyas Gopal are genuine wicket-taking options. Sometimes you need that in the first powerplay to prevent opponents from running away with the match.

Delhi Capitals may have to sweat over Kuldeep Yadav’s form while Royal Challengers Bangalore have signed up for Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga for the unenviable job of taking over from Chahal, with Shahbaz Ahmed and Glenn Maxwell as backup. With Ravi Bishnoi and Krunal in their ranks, Lucknow Super Giants are an exception to this spin conundrum, as are Chennai Super Kings, who should field Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja every match.

Kolkata Knight Riders lived up to their tag of smart buyers when they acquired Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Nabi in the accelerated bids but their retentions have raised serious doubts about how they plan to address the fitness concerns of Andre Russell, Varun Chakaravarthy, and even Sunil Narine to some extent.

Hardik Pandya’s ability to bowl will influence Gujarat Titans’ journey but they also have a line-up where Shubman Gill is the most experienced Indian specialist batter. And Gill made his debut only in 2018. Leadership in batting, bowling or fielding isn’t an issue for Chennai Super Kings who continue to be one of the aged squads, but it hasn’t mattered in the past and shouldn’t in the future as well. In Deepak Chahar, Adam Milne and Dwayne Bravo CSK have adequate options for the slog overs after Ali and Jadeja are expected to keep it tight in the middle overs. On the batting front, Ambati Rayudu and Robin Uthappa are again expected to play anchors. How well Devon Conway settles into the opening slot left vacant by Faf du Plessis will probably have a telling effect on their batting, especially in chases, given that MS Dhoni isn’t much of a finisher anymore.

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