Indian Premier League auctions can be tricky – teams have fixed purses to spend, fixed slots to fill with Indian and overseas players, and fixed number of slots left.
With support teams in place for months to plan and strategise and scout for the best combination of players, the auctions can still get chaotic with bidding wars and escalated costs. Remember Pawan Negi, the uncapped Indian who went for Rs 8.5 crore last year? However, not every pick turns out to be bang for the buck. Again, remember Pawan Negi?
With the auction for the tenth edition of the IPL set to be held on February 20, the eight franchises will be putting together a plan to pick the best possible combination with the resources they have, before the big overhaul next season. If the previous auctions were anything to go by, some of the most valuable players turn out to be the penny wise picks. Not all the IPL stars come from multiple-crore contracts as we have seen throughout the years.
Here’s the a look at the dark horses from IPL 2016 – players who did not go for big bucks, but made a big impact.
Mustafizur Rahman, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Price: Rs 1.4 crore (Base price Rs 50 lakh)
IPL 2016 performance: 16 matches 17 wickets for 421 runs at an average of 24.76 and economy of 6.90
Bangladesh’s young pace bowling sensation Mustafizur Rahman was literally “The Fizz” in the Sunriser Hyderabad’s victorious IPL 2016 campaign. The then 20-year-old left-arm seamer proved to be one of biggest hits if the tournament with 17 wickets in 16 matches and the best economy rate for his team.
Mustafizur shot into to prominence during his first One-Day International series in 2015, where he was instrumental in Bangladesh’s first ever series win over India, picking two five-wicket hauls and 13 wickets in the three-match series. His crafty cutters and ability to choke up the runs made him man to watch out for the 2016 IPL auctions. Sunrisers picked him for a relatively good price of Rs 1.4 crore and he turned out to be excellent value for money.
He became Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner’s go-to man in times of crisis and formed a lethal bowling combination with Purple Cap winner Bhuvneshwar Kumar and veteran Ashish Nehra. “He is special talent’. Bangladesh should be privileged to have him. His change of pace and execution is brilliant,” Warner said, showering praise on the youngster.
Krunal Pandya, Mumbai Indians
Price: Rs 2 crore (base price Rs 10 lakh)
IPL 2016 performance: 237 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.50; 6 wickets at an average of 39.33 and economy of 7.57.
When Krunal Pandya, India international Hardik Pandya’s relatively lesser known brother, fetched a Rs 2 crore contract – 20 times that of his brother – at the 2016 IPL auctions, a lot of people were left looking forward to see how the Baroda all-rounder would perform. The 25-year-old repaid the faith of the team with sturdy, consistent performances.
The highlight of Krunal Pandya’s IPL campaign was his all-round heroics against Delhi Daredevils, where he scored a half century and picked two wickets for 15 runs. He was sent up the order when the first wicket fell by captain Rohit Sharma to the surprise of many, but he hit 86 runs in 37 balls with seven fours and six sixes and along with Martin Guptill took Mumbai to 206. He then contributed with the ball as well to seal a 80-run win.
Krunal was the team’s fourth highest run-getter with 237 runs with the one half-century and picked 11 wickets with his handy left-arm spin to cap an impressive season. While the brothers insist there is no competition, Krunal did manage to step out of Hardik’s shadow and make his mark in the IPL, despite Mumbai’s otherwise disappointing performance.
Adam Zampa, Rising Pune Super Giants
Price: Rs 30 lakh (Base price Rs 30 lakh)
IPL 2016 performance: 12 wickets in 5 games at an average of 9.58 at an economy of 6.76
Adam Zampa was one of the rare, positive things about Rising Pune Super Giants’ dismal, inaugural IPL campaign. The Australian legspinner did not get a chance to play many games but impressed in his limited time, finishing with the season’s best bowling figures and best average.
In his limited game time, Zampa picked 12 wickets in five games at an average of 9.58 at an economy of 6.76, including a six-wicket haul. In a game against eventual champions Sunrisers Hyderabad , the 24-year-old dismissed top batsmen like Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh to restrict them to 137. But the effort turned out to be in a losing cause as Hyderabad won by four runs.
Zampa was the leading wicket-taker for the Melbourne Stars in the 2015-’16 edition of the Big Bash League, but did not get much traction in the IPL auction where Pune picked him for his base price of Rs 30 lakh. He turned out to be an excellent investment and the team has retained him for the upcoming season.
Dhawal Kulkarni, Gujarat Lions
Price: Rs 2 crores (Base price 2 crore)
IPL 2016 performance: 18 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 20.22 and economy of 7.42
Dhawal Kulkarni, Gujarat Lions’ highest wicket-taker, was instrumental in their run to the playoffs. Bought for his base price of Rs 2 crore in the auction, the India international, who has played two Twenty 20 Internationals, turned out to a fine addition to the new franchise as he lead their bowling attack. The medium-pacer was consistent through the tournament and shone through in a bowling department consisting of Dale Steyn and Praveen Kumar.
Kulkarni’s personal best performance came in Gujarat’s worst match, as they lost the first Qualifier to Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kulkarni was clinical in that game, running through the potent Banaglore top order getting Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Sachin Baby out, giving away just 14 runs. But the performance was marred by his inability to get AB de Villiers, who steered a 4-wicket win.
One of the Purple Cap contendors, Kulkarni finished his tournament with 18 wickets at an average of 20.22 and economy of 7.42 and was subsequently selected for the tour to Zimbabwe as well.
Rishabh Pant, Delhi Daredevils
Price: Rs 1.9 crore (Base price Rs 10 lakh)
IPL 2016 performance: 198 runs in 10 matches at an average of 24.75
While Rishabh Pant did not exactly set the IPL on fire with the bat, the then 18-year-old did enough to be noticed. The wicket-keeper batsman scored his first IPL half-century in only 25 balls in his third match to lead Delhi Daredevils to a eight-wicket win over Gujarat Lions. The talented left-hander scored 69 runs off 40 balls with nine fours and two sixes and was extensively praised for his flair shot-making. Pant went on to have a prosperous season and even made it to the Indian T20I squad earlier this year, showing just how much potential he has.
Earlier, Pant created quite a buzz in the IPL auction as he was snapped for Rs 1.9 crore, a significant raise from his base price of 10 lakh and definite boost for an Under-19 player. But Pant justified the confidence of the franchise as he scores some crucial knocks to give the batting order a boost. The youngster has been retained by Delhi and will be looking to perform even better in the upcoming season.