IPL auctions have a history of throwing up several surprises and this year was no exception. While some of the high-profile players - Martin Guptill, Herschelle Gibbs, Matt Prior, Ravi Bopara and Vernon Philander - were completely snubbed; rookies like Kane Richardson, Chris Morris and Glenn Maxwell wooed the franchise owners and laughed all the way to the bank snapping up big bucks on Sunday.
Maxwell emerged as the biggest draw as he bagged a whopping $1million from Mumbai Indians. He had blasted an explosive half-century (51 not out off 35 balls) against West Indies in an ODI a couple of days back which turned the tide in his favour. During the Big Bash League (BBL) he did little of note except a solitary half-century. Probably Mumbai picked Maxwell as a replacement for James Franklin but even then his bidding amount came as a huge shock as he overshadowed many illustrious and more experienced names. Anil Kumble, the team's new mentor, described Maxwell as an "exciting young talent" and asserted that he was a "good catch" for the side.
Kane Richardson, who picked up 10 wickets in eight matches at an economy rate of 7.24 in the BBL, was bought by Pune Warriors for $700,000 while his more experienced Australian fast bowling counterparts - Doug Bollinger, Josh Hazlewood and Ben Cutting - went unsold. Chennai Super Kings fought hard with Pune to buy him but were eventually outbid. It'll be interesting to see whether the youngster would be able to justify his lofty price tag which precedes him.
Chris Morris fetched $625,000, an amount that was more than 31 times his base price, and was largely benefitted by Chennai's strategy of bidding for bowling allrounders. They were outbid in the cases of Thisara Perera, James Faulkner and Abhishek Nayar but went all out for Morris and purchased him at a price which even bamboozled the 25-year-old South African allrounder. More seasoned allrounders like Dan Christian and Jacob Oram had to contend with their base prices which were $100,000 and 50,000 respectively.
Other players who got the much higher price than what was anticipated were Sachithra Senanayake($625,000), Nathan Coulter-Nile ($450,000), Manpreet Gony ($500,000) and Jaydev Unadkat ($525,000). Senanayake played just two games in the BBL and claimed one wicket; his international record too is unremarkable. Kolkata Knight Riders desperately wanted a 'mystery spinner' who could bowl in tandem with Sunil Narine hence they settled for the 27-year-old offspinner after bidding aggressively but unsuccessfully for Ajantha Mendis. Gony has been mediocre in the last couple of seasons after raising hopes in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 but that didn't prevent Kings XI Punjab from purchasing him. Unadkat, who played just one match for KKR last season, was chalked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore. RCB roped in four seamers and three bowling allrounders - Dan Christian, Christopher Barnwell, Moises Henriques - all of whom are medium-pacers.
Mendis ($ 725,000), Nayar ($675,000) and Perera ($675,000) were rewarded for their recent superlative performances. Mendis was the highest wicket-taker in the ICC World Twenty20 2012 while Perera has cemented his reputation as an effective lower-middle-order batsman who can clock up runs at a breakneck clip and his medium-fast bowling is tailor-made for the shorter version. Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke were taken by Mumbai and Pune respectively at their base price $400,000.
Akila Dananjaya (bought by CSK for $20000), Quinton de Kock (bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $20000), Clint McKay (bought by Hyderabad for $100,000) and Darren Sammy (bought by Hyderabad for $425,000) were, arguably, the best bargains of the auctions. Dananjaya is yet another 'mystery spinner' from Sri Lanka and the Indian conditions will be conducive to his style of bowling. CSK struck gold by nabbing him at his base price. It was surprising to see that KKR didn't bid for him but splurged $625,000 for Senanayake. De Kock is a belligerent wicket-keeper batsman and his game is perfectly suited for the Twenty20 format. Teams like Pune and Rajasthan Royals, who don't have a quality wicketkeeper in their side, committed an error by not bidding for this talented left-hander.
Sammy has emerged as an inspiring captain after he led West Indies to the World Twenty20 glory in 2012 and Hyderabad might toy with an idea of making him the captain of the side. He has played some blazing innings in the shorter versions of the game in last one year and has consistently chipped in with crucial wickets. McKay is an ideal choice for the subcontinent conditions and T20s as he's someone who varies the pace subtly, and astutely, to fox batsmen.
Among the players which went unsold, Guptill, Gibbs, Prior, Philander and Aaron Finch are the most notable ones. Guptill smashed an unbeaten hundred (101 off 69 balls) against South Africa in a T20 recently to steer New Zealand home and he has been a consistent performer in the shortest format of the game since last two years. He's an excellent fielder and at a base price of $100,000, he would have been a snitch. Finch was Man of the Tournament in the Big Bash as he hammered 332 runs at 66.40 with an strike-rate of 125.75 bit didn't find any favour. Prior's excellent record in England's domestic T20 tournament with the bat and his nifty wicketkeeping failed to generate any confidence or interest among the IPL franchise owners.
Though Philander is primarily a Test bowler, not many expected that he would be overlooked in the IPL auction at a base price of $100,000 while many of the lesser known names made merry. On the face of it, he would have been surely a better pick than Richardson and Coulter-Nile at this price. Aaron Phangiso, Rangana Herath, James Hopes and Bopara are other notable players who wouldn't have been bad choices but were glossed over at the auction.
Among teams, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore displayed gumption and were methodical in buying players; on the other hand, Rajasthan, Chennai and Punjab were erratic in their choices and decisions. The defending champions KKR have a settled outfit so they didn't want to tinker with the team too much. The team management wanted a mystery spinner to accompany Narine so they bid for Mendis with gusto but lost out to Pune. They ultimately got hold of Senanayake. Apart from Mendis and Senanayake, KKR only bid for Sammy but couldn't get him. In the end, they took South African medium-pacer Ryan McLaren ($50,000) at his base price.
RCB grabbed the most number of players (seven) in the auction, all of whom are medium-pacers. They have enough artillery in their batting - Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli - and spin department - Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori - so they were looking to bolster their fast bowling attack. While Pankaj Singh ($150,000), Ravi Rampaul ($290,000) and RP Singh ($400,000) are good buys; Unadkat ($525,000) is a complete rip-off.
Delhi Daredevils only had $1.4 million so spend but they made pretty wise choices by taking Johan Botha ($450,000), Jesse Ryder ($260,000) and Jeevan Mendis ($50,000). While Ryder gives them a choice of an extra opener, Botha and Jeevan Mendis lend more depth to their inexperienced spin attack. Pune spent the maximum amount, $2.5 million, in this auction and filled their full quota of 33 players. They splashed on Mendis ($725,000) and Nayar ($675,000); snapped up a terrific buy in from of Clarke ($400,000) but their decision to spend $700,000 on Richardson could prove a tad dicey. Hyderabad were the smartest of the lot and made all the right decisions by snaffling Perera, Sammy, McKay and De Kock at reasonable amounts.
Rajasthan had $7.7 million left but spent only $630,000, the least among all the franchises. It was inexplicable why didn't they pick up any quality bowler apart from Fidel Edwards. Their bowling department - both pace and spin - is bereft of ordnance and considering that they had the highest amount in the kitty to spend, they could have easily bought some fine medium-pacers and tweakers. They were, astonishingly, pipped while bidding for RP Singh and Nayar.
Punjab were the most tepid franchise at the auction. They had $6.9 million left in the purse for eight Indians and four foreigners but they chose to bid for only two players - Luke Pomersbach ($300,000) and Gony ($500,000) - and managed to successfully buy them. While the bid for Pomersbach was a deft one; splurging $500,000 for Gony didn't make sense especially when they had a lot of better options, at more frugal prices, at their disposal. They could have easily bought a spinner and a good fast bowler to give more balance and equilibrium to their squad.
Mumbai clocked up five foreign players in the auction to fill their quota of 11 overseas cricketers. They picked Ponting ($400,000), Phillip Hughes ($100,000) and Oram ($50,000) at their base prices but surprisingly spent a lot of dough for Coulter-Nile ($450,000) and Maxwell ($1 million).