The Indian Premier League auction on December 19 saw teams bidding for a list that comprised more than 300 players, with 62 players being bought at the end of the day. This was a mini-auction as IPL 2021 will offer teams a chance to reset their squads. The auction dynamics that are in play every year were influenced by that fact as well.
While the overseas stars, especially Australians, dominated the headlines, some of the Indian youngsters picked up good deals too. There was a cheer around the auction room as well when Kolkata Knight Riders picked up 48-year-old Pravin Tambe for his base price.
What were the overall takeaways from the auction in Kolkata on Thursday? We take a look here:
Aussies hit the jackpot
Here are some numbers for you.
A total of Rs 140.30 crores was spent out of which Rs 57.25 crores was spent on players from Australia: a whopping 40.80% of the total money spent on Thursday in Kolkata. Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell combined, fetched 18.7% of the money spent by the eight teams.
The fact that this auction was just focussed on getting players for the 2020 season (more on that later) definitely played a part in how much Cummins and Maxwell went for. As good as he is, Cummins (even though listed as an all-rounder) is not a bowler worth spending Rs 15.50 crores onz and Maxwell, even his recent form issues notwithstanding, has been hit-and-miss in the IPL.
But there is no denying the fact that the familiarity that Australians have with Indian conditions now thanks to their frequent bilateral visits and years of playing IPL played a role in what transpired at the auction. Nothing else can quite explain why a Colin de Grandhomme went unsold while Marcus Stoinis and Kane Richardson fetched multi-crore bids.
RCB and KXIP’s contrasting days
While Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore were expected to be the two most active sides, the auction went in completely contrasting ways for the two franchises.
At the end of the first session of the auction, when nearly 80 player names had been drawn, RCB had signed a grand total of two players. Now, successfully bidding for a player one wants is not the easiest thing to do when there are other franchises with more money while some try to hype the price up but there is no logic at all to picking up only two players in the first session and that too, by spending Rs 10 crores on Chris Morris: a player who is infuriatingly inconsistent in the league.
In fact, had KKR not swooped in late, RCB were about to spend Rs 15 crores on Pat Cummins alone out of their Rs 27.90 crore budget. As it turned out in the end, RCB got a good player in with Aaron Finch and a steal for promising wicketkeeper Joshua Philippe but Mike Hesson and Co, it must be said, had a forgettable day.
On the other hand, with Anil Kumble controlling the bidding, KXIP went about their business shrewdly. An auction is as much about knowing when to stop bidding and the Punjab franchise showed that restraint in most cases. In James Neesham (Rs 50 lakhs), Ishan Porel (Rs 10 lakhs), and Chris Jordan (Rs 3 crores), they got three of the top bargain deals on the day while going all out for the X-factor player they looked for in Maxwell.
Two teams with plenty of backroom changes ahead of the new season, but only one emerged with credit at the auction.
One of the features of the IPL 2020 auction was the price correction that a few players had to go through with franchises picking players up at a much-reduced price than they previously went for.
The most prominent names to face that were Chris Lynn and Jayadev Unadkat: two players who’s bid amounts were significantly devalued from the past. While there is a case to be made for Lynn being a steal at Rs 2 crore for Mumbai Indians, Unadkat returned to Rajasthan Royals after yet again being released into the pool to lower his value. The team owner, perhaps inadvertently, admitted during one of the interviews that the idea was always to get Unadkat back but at a manageable price because the tag of being one of the most expensive players in the league added to the pressure on the left-arm pacer.
There was also the case of franchises being a little more guarded with uncapped players as Varun Chakravarthy (despite playing just one game in IPL 2019 after receiving a bid of Rs 8.4 crores from KXIP) was purchased by KKR for less than half his previous bid. Another uncapped youngster Prabsimran Singh also came back to his previous franchise when KXIP picked him up for almost 90% cheaper than last year.
Focus on short term
We had written in the preview series, that this auction was about teams preparing for just the upcoming season and not exactly looking at the long haul. And as a consequence of that, young Indian players did not attract the same amount of interest as they would otherwise while established overseas stars were in high demand. With teams prioritising getting a squad for just one season where players from almost all nations are expected to be available for the duration of the tournament, there was no strategising to pick up bargain deals for specific positions. If a team wanted to fill up a spot — even the more sensible franchises like Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians — they splashed the dough. CSK went big for Sam Curran and Piyush Chawla, while MI thought Coulter-Nile was worth Rs 8 crores. It would be fair to say neither would have happened if this was an auction where teams were building for a three-year cycle.
Shot in the arm for Rahul and DK
This is not exactly a takeaway from the auction proceedings per se but a direct consequence of what we witnessed during the course of the day.
A new Indian captain was added to the league, with Kings XI Punjab confirming KL Rahul would lead the team in 2020. While many thought Punjab could look at Aaron Finch or Eoin Morgan to strengthen their batting and bring in a leader, Kumble did not even raise his bidding paddle for the two international captains. That was the first sign that the franchise had decided to back Rahul as captain, a development which was confirmed later in the day. Now, it remains to be seen if captaincy in the IPL does to Rahul what it did to Rohit Sharma.
On the other hand, one of the existing Indian captains had a few question marks over him at the end of last season. Not everyone was convinced by Dinesh Karthik’s leadership at KKR and the arrival of Morgan raised the prospect of the World Cup-winning captain taking over. But Brendon McCullum took the first opportunity to clarify that DK will remain the man in charge.
It was a shot in the arm for both Indian players at differing stages of their careers.