The World’s Premier Domestic T20 League Competition (Hint: It’s Indian) had its much-awaited auction. In its 9th edition now, it boasts of two brand new teams – the Rising Pune Supergiants and the Gujarat Lions, in place of the suspended (for 2 years) Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. As a result, all the players from these two veteran teams have been distributed and dissolved around the board in a new auction – which mostly followed the same rules (Teams retained their core players, offloaded some and bought new ones) 94 players were sold on the day overall across 8 teams for more than INR 135 crore.
Here are some of the most notable buys – capped and uncapped (oh, this is interesting) – for the 2016 edition, which begins 4 days after the World T20 Championships.
SHANE WATSON (9.5 crores to Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Why am I not surprised? RCB have gone ahead and bolstered an already top-heavy team with an outrageous buy. But what must’ve really made them desperate for Watson were his 4-over bowling spells. Against India in the 3 doomed T20s at home, Watson not only scored a spellbinding century, but also bowled economically and consistently troubled top order batsmen like Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. His all-round ability is back in the spotlight – and the Royals’ captain will now play under Virat Kohli.
DEEPAK HOODA (4.2 crores to Sunrisers Hyderabad)
The Royals’ young ‘find’ of last season was snapped up by SRH after starting at a base price of a petty 10 lakhs. And deservedly so. He displayed some of his fearless batting and talent last year, but will have to make sure he is more of a Manish Pandey than a Paul Valthaty.
KARUN NAIR (4 crores to Delhi Daredevils)
The young opening batsman of the Royals fetched a price 40 times his base price too. After many seasons with RR, he will have felt a bit depressed when they were banned, but clearly, DD have gone after him to rope in an aggressive pint-sized domestic batsman desperate to make it to the Indian team.
CARLOS BRATHWAITE (4.2 crores to Delhi Daredevils)
He is no Darren Sammy (who, shockingly, went unsold) or Kieron Pollard, but Brathwaite has proven to be a handy lower order hitter in the Test series West Indies played against Australia recently. He has been around for a while, but has only come into his own recently. His medium-pace bowling isn’t bad either – and he is the perfect recipe to spring a surprise onto unsuspecting teams.
PAWAN NEGI (8.5 crores to Delhi Daredevils)
Either the DD management is filled with fools or mad geniuses. This was their third outrageously expensive pick – only days after the hard-hitting tiny left-arm spinner was picked in the Indian T20 squad for the World Cup. Surely, playing with captain M.S. Dhoni last year seems to have helped – especially performing with the bat in crunch situations.
CHRIS MORRIS (7 crores to Delhi Daredevils)
Oh Daredevils, what have you done? Even the commentators in the England-South Africa series were bemused, wondering how new ‘millionaire’ Morris hasn’t been picked by South Africa if he were so useful. He has been a decent bowler for the Royals, but not good enough to merit this kind of price.
YUVRAJ SINGH (7 crores to Sunrisers Hyderabad)
He has been picked in the World T20 squad, but has seen his price slashed from 16 (in 2014) to 14 (in 2015) to 7 now – still retaining his place as a millionaire though, if only just. He will be desperate to show the Sunrisers that they’ve made a good decision. He has three international tournaments to do so.
NATHU SINGH (3.2 crores to Mumbai Indians)
Surprisingly, MI spent the least money in the auction, but did make a surprising pick – RR fast bowler Singh at an insane cost. However, John Wright, their ex-coach and now talent scout, has a proven record – as their record as two-time champions and two-time Champions League winners show. He has an eye for local talent. Ask Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.
RISHABH PANT (1.9 crores to Delhi Daredevils)
The star U-19 Indian batsman is probably gearing up for the World Cup semis right now, but will be glad to know that his talent is being noticed everywhere. He smashed the quickest U19 fifty recently, and is a wicketkeeper to boot. Will he follow in the steps of Samson, Kohli and Dhawan? He does look the part.
JOS BUTTLER (3.8 crores to Mumbai Indians)
Smart, smart pick – and perhaps the difference this season. The England keeper is a dangerous batsman, as he has shown time and again, and is in the form of his life. Let’s see how he adjusts to Indian conditions.
KRUNAL PANDYA (2 crores to Mumbai Indians)
The brother of recent star Hardik Pandya was caught in a bidding war between Delhi and Mumbai, but will join his sibling as one of the many young domestic players looking for a break in a team that is fast establishing itself as the new-age Rajasthan Royals.
SANJU SAMSON (4.2 crores to Delhi Daredevils)
DD will hope to God that all their brave domestic picks don’t go the Dinesh Karthik way. Samson hasn’t been in the best of form, but his class is obvious. It will be between Pant and him to take the keeper’s spot, but this is the season Samson will want to establish himself as a serious contender for bigger things. He cannot afford to fade away.
M. ASHWIN (4.5 crores to Rising Pune Supergiants)
The leg-spinning star of the recent domestic Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 competition was snapped up at a rate 45 times his base price – the highest of the evening. Incidentally, Syed Mushtaq has played a crucial role in many young (and old) players being on the radar of the national team as well as the franchise managements.
MOHIT SHARMA (6.5 crores to Kings XI Punjab)
The ex-CSK bowler will be happy after falling out of favor with the national team selectors. He had a good 2015 World Cup, but didn’t perform well in the bilateral ODI series against South Africa at home. He will use this season as a springboard to prove that he is more than just a Dhoni favourite.
KEVIN PIETERSEN (3.5 crores to Rising Pune Supergiants)
The Big Bash and ex-England superstar will finally return to India to play for a new team – a fresh start after being ignored by England for the World Cup yet again despite being their best T20 batsman. More interestingly, he will be captained by M.S. Dhoni. Hmmm…
MITCHELL MARSH (4.8 crores to Rising Pune Supergiants)
He has been on the rise and will look to emulate older brother Shaun Marsh’s explosive debut season back in 2008. Time to step up and make the world take notice.