Bengaluru: The fact that uncapped allrounder Pawan Negi pipped Yuvraj Singh to become the costliest Indian buy at Rs 8.5 crore in Saturday’s IPL auction indicates a clear shift in strategy on part of the teams who seemed to be focusing more on budding, young talents than spending mega bucks on established superstars.
It was a bonanza for many uncapped players many of whom fetched excellent packages in a confirmation that teams were relying a lot on inputs from their scouts rather than putting a premium on just reputation.
It’s not as if the foreign stars went empty-handed though. Australia’s veteran allrounder Shane Watson expectedly emerged as the biggest draw going for Rs 9.50 crore but it was still significantly less compared to costliest buys in earlier editions.
The 34-year-old Watson, who marked his return to form with a blazing century against India in the last T20, triggered an intense bidding war among three franchises before Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) clinched the deal with the highest package so far.
Watson thus became the first million dollar buy of the auction with his package translating into $1.39 million.
He was joined by Yuvraj Singh (Rs 7 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad) soon after even though today’s bid was far less than the Rs 16 crore he had garnered in the last auction.
The duo were the big hits of the morning session which started with the auctioning for the 12 marquee players.
Also walking away with a package of Rs 7 crore was South Africa’s big-hitting all-rounder Chris Morris, who was bought by Delhi Daredevils.
However, the show-stealer of the day came in the post-lunch session in the 23-year-old Negi, who has created a flutter with his selection for the Twenty20 World Cup next month.
The youngster, who has played for Chennai Super Kings, had a bonanza awaiting him just a day after being selected for the Indian team.
No uncapped player has clinched the mammoth deal that he managed to get after an intense bidding war, which was won by Delhi Daredevils.
It was also a rewarding day for India’s uncapped players.
Some among them were Karun Nair (Rs 4 crore to Delhi Daredevils), India under-19 player Rishabh Pant (Rs 1.9 crore to Delhi), all-rounder Deepak Hooda (Rs 4.2 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad), Tamil Nadu spinner M Ashwin (Rs 4.5 crore to Rising Pune Super Giants) and Krunal Pandya (Rs 2 crore to Mumbai Indians).
Among the big names, veteran Indian pacer Ashish Nehra (Rs 5.5 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad), Ishant Sharma (Rs 3.8 crore to Rising Pune Super Giants), Kevin Pietersen (Rs 3.5 crore to RPSG), and Dwayne Smith (Rs 2.3 crore to Gujarat Lions) were the top draws among the marquee players in the auction which was beamed live to millions of viewers.
Unheralded West Indian batsman Carlos Brathwaite was a surprise gainer fetching a whopping Rs 4.2 crore fee from the Delhi Daredevils, a huge jump from his base price of Rs 30 lakh.
Another top pick was Indian pacer Mohit Sharma, who was taken by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 6.5 crore.
Young Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson, who had a base price of rs 2 crore, was expectedly a sought after player with Delhi Daredevils buying him for Rs 4.2 crore.
The auction saw celebrity owners like Nita Ambani (Mumbai Indians), Preity Zinta (Kings XI Punjab) and Vijay Mallya (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and former players such as Ricky Ponting, Stephen Fleming, VVS Laxman, Tom Moody, Brad Hodge and Daniel Vettori actively involved in the bidding process
for their respective franchises.
After the marquee players were sold out in the very first batch, the auction lacked fizz but the proceedings livened up
when uncapped players were sold for unexpectedly big amounts.
Australia’s T20 captain Aaron Finch went unsold initially but was picked by Gujarat Lions for his base price of Rs 1 crore in the ‘ Accelerated Process’ which allowed unsold
players to be brought back into the auction.
However, New Zealand’s big-hitting batsman Martin Guptill, Australia’s former captain George Bailey, South African Hashim Amla, and retired players like Mahela Jayawardene, Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin went unsold.
West Indian Darren Sammy, Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan, in-form Australian Usman Khawaja, David Hussey, Adam Voges and Munaf Patel also failed to find any takers.
Yuvraj wasn’t third-time lucky in terms of being the biggest buy but Sunrisers Hyderabad entered late into the fray to buy him.
“I don’t agree (that Yuvraj did not evoke interest among bidders). If you look at the bidding we were very interested, but issues of bidding and price ceiling issues, did not allow us to go for him. He is really a marquee player and hope he plays for us sometime in the future,” RCB Director Amrit Thomas told reporters here. - With PTI inputs