Jaydev Unadkat became the most expensive Indian player in the IPL 2018 auction on Sunday after Rajasthan Royals purchased him for Rs 11.5 crore. The left-handed pacer was also the second most expensive player in the auction, behind England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was also bought by Rajasthan for Rs 12.5 crore on Saturday.
Despite the Royals’ splurging, which went against their Moneyball reputation, they aren’t the most balanced squad after the two-day auction ended on Sunday. That honour would go to the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad, both of whom have bagged a rather enviable bunch of players.
Here’s a look at how each franchise did at the IPL auction:
Chennai Super Kings
Total players: 25
Strength: Spinners, all-rounders
Weaknesses: Missing one (or two) reliable top-order batsmen
Chennai Super Kings had Rs 6.5 crore left at the end of the auction and, looking at their 25-man strong, one can’t help but think whether they should have used some of that on some more batting options. Yes, they’ve got Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and MS Dhoni, but there aren’t any more specialist batsmen in the squad. Murali Vijay and Ambati Rayudu are there, but then are they really the best CSK could have gotten?
CSK are heavy on all-rounders, with Ravindra Jadeja, Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo leading the pack, which includes Karn Sharma and Kedar Jadhav. All these guys can bat but CSK are probably missing one good top-order batsman.
Chennai’s bowling line-up is strong, especially the spin attack, with Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Mitchell Santner, along with Jadeja and Karn. The fast bowlers lack a big name in their midst, even though the purchase of South Africa’s Lungi Ngidi sent Twitter into overdrive – but that was more because of his first name.
Total players: 25
Weaknesses: Bowling could have been stronger
Gautam Gambhir returns home to Delhi and will form an explosive opening pair with England’s Jason Roy. India’s Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant will follow, along with the explosive Glenn Maxwell and Chris Morris. That’s quite a formidable top six, with India U19 captain Prithvi Shaw, Manjot Kalra and Naman Ojha also available.
Delhi are heavy on all-rounders, with Daniel Christian providing back-up to Maxwell and Morris. They don’t have the best bowling line-up of the lot, but Mohammed Shami and Amit Mishra can prove handy on their day. They’ve also got Kagiso Rabada and Trent Boult. Shahbaz Nadeem provides another spin-bowling option, as does Jayant Yadav and Sandeep Limachhane, who became the first Nepalese player to get an IPL contract.
It’s a good squad that has the potential to lift them up from the bottom half of the table, where they have been languishing for the past few seasons.
Kings XI Punjab
Total players: 21
Weaknesses: Short on world-class bowling options apart from Ashwin
An opening pair of Chris Gayle an Aaron Finch? Kings XI Punjab could make it possible, after purchasing Gayle when given the chance for the third time in the auction. However, the Trinidadian had a rather sober IPL by his standards last year, so it’s very possible that he may not be the first name on the team sheet. He’ll take that, considering he almost did not get picked in the auction.
KXIP also have KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal and Manoj Tiwary as options for batting, along with David Miller, Yuvraj Singh and Marcus Stoinis. Ravi Ashwin will lead Punjab’s bowling attack and the India off-spinner is the biggest name there. Other names include Ankit Rajpoot, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran and Australian Andrew Tye, who has 91 T20 scalps. Not really a title-winning line-up on paper, but you never know.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Total players: 19
Strengths: Pace attack
Weaknesses: Batting, no apparent candidate for captain
The Knight Riders spent all their available money (Rs 80 crore) in the auction and managed to buy only 19 players with that. Their batting line-up features Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Shubhman Gill, Ishank Jaggi and Rinku Singh. The all-rounders line-up is a bit more strong with Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Nitish Rana but not really intimidating, is it?
KKR’s strength lies in their pace attack. They’ve got both the Mitchells – Starc and Johnson, along with India U19 pacers Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. R Vinay Kumar is also available. But, again, is that good enough?
Not going for Gautam Gambhir also raises the question: Who is your captain?
Is this a squad that can win KKR’s third IPL title? Don’t bet on it.
Total players: 25
Weaknesses: Batting, spin bowling
Apart from Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians’ batting line-up is a gaping hole. West Indies’ Evin Lewis, and India’s Siddhesh Lad and Suryakumar Yadav are the only other recognisable genuine batters, if you don’t count wicketkeepers Ishan Kishan and Aditya Tare.
Mumbai have a power-packed all-rounder line-up, which they will hope can cover the batting hole. Kieron Pollard, the Pandya brothers, JP Duminy and Ben Cutting can score runs and take wickets.
Mumbai’s bowling will be led by Jasprit Bumrah as the franchise chose not to retain Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson. Bumrah has Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman for company, along with Australia’s Pat Cummins and Jason Behrendorff.
The spin attack looks a bit weak with the exit of Harbhajan Singh, who has been replaced by Sri Lanka’s Akila Dhananjay and youngster Rahul Chahar.
Can this 25-man squad defend their title? Mmm...
Total players: 23
Weaknesses: Not the most enviable bowling attack
The Royals have the two most expensive players in the auction in their squad and they still managed to save Rs 1.65 crore of their auction purse.
Rajasthan have an enviable batting line-up, led by Steve Smith and followed by Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Rahul Tripathi and Stokes. Big Bash League’s star all-rounders D’Arcy Short and Jofra Archer provide back-up, along with Stuart Binny.
The Royals don’t have a star bowler, unless Unadkat can be called one. Their bowling line-up includes Dhawal Kulkarni, Ben Laughlin, Ankit Sharma and Karnataka spinner K Gowtham. Safe to assume the onus will be on the all-rounders to carry their bowling.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Total players: 25
Strengths: Batting, bowling, everything
Weaknesses: None really
Just look at that batting line-up: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Parthiv Patel, Sarfaraz Khan, Manan Vohra and Mandeep Singh.
If that’s not enough, here are the all-rounders: Moeen Ali, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Chris Woakes, and Colin de Grandhomme.
If even that weren’t enough, check out the bowlers: Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, M Siraj, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Tim Southee, Navdeep Saini and M Ashwin.
If RCB don’t break their IPL title duck this year, they should just stop playing.
Total players: 25
Strengths: Bowling, bowling, bowling
Weaknesses: None, again
Anything you can do, I can do better, the Sunrisers told RCB, who may be lower on batting firepower than their neighbours but their bowling line-up is one to die for.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar leads a pace-bowling arsenal that includes Sandeep Sharma, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Siddharth Kaul, Syed Khaleel Ahmed and Billy Stanlake. Those are just the genuine bowlers. There’s also Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Jordan among the all-rounders.
The Sunrisers’ spin attack will be led by Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, with all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan, Deepak Hooda, Bipul Sharma and Mehdi Hasan for company.
That’s not to say their batting is weak. Try telling that to David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey.