Kolkata witnessed an eventful evening on Thursday as following an intense bidding war, 62 among the 997 registered cricketers found takers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 player auction in the ‘City of Joy’. Coming into this much-awaited day, the sole objective of the eight franchises was to plug the loopholes in their respective squads, keeping their core group intact and in the end, arguably, all teams had managed to leave the auction room with a fair bit of satisfaction.
We analyse how defending champions Mumbai Indians and Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) went through their proceedings when the players' names were going under the hammer.
Players purchased: Chris Lynn (INR 2.00 cr), Nathan Coulter-Nile (INR 8.00 cr), Saurabh Tiwary (INR 50 L), Mohsin Khan (INR 20 L), Digvijay Deshmukh (INR 20 L), Prince Balwant Rai Singh (INR 20 L).
With lowest available purse (INR 13.09 cr) and just seven vacant spots to fill (two international, five domestic) the four-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians had nothing much to gain from this year’s auction barring finding a few quality back-ups for some of their top first-choice cricketers. And the think-tank got their job done quite clinically by bagging hard-hitting opener Chris Lynn and pace bowling all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile within 10 crore.
In the batting department, Mumbai have had a settled line-up. However, with the likes of Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock at the top – who are more or less considered as conventional batsmen by modern day T20 standards – they needed someone who can go after the bowling in the powerplay. Previously Evin Lewis was entrusted upon to do the job but this year Mumbai let him go prior to the auction. Hence, going for someone like Lynn or Jason Roy was always on the cards. And the franchise should consider themselves lucky to get Lynn at his base price. In fact, Lynn was the first name, which went under the hammer in this year's auction.
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) December 19, 2019
The Australian batsman previously had a decent stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL. But due to growing concerns surrounding his shoulder issues as well as fading form, the Knights released him. However, of late the Queensland cricketer has managed to reestablish his reputation as a big-hitter in white ball leagues around the world. The pace and bounce of the Wankhade is expected to suit his cross-batted shots.
In Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mumbai see a back-up for aging Lasith Malinga though they also have Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan in their setup. Coulter-Nile had played for Mumbai before and already has a fair bit of idea about the functioning of the team. He can be a wicket-taking option with the new ball as well as in the death overs. Additionally, the 32-year-old can chip in with bat as well which perhaps triggered the management to get involved in an intense bidding battle with arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings and persisting till the end.
Among other purchases by Mumbai, Jharkhand’s Saurabh Tiwary is returning to this set-up. But unlike his last stint, this time the 29-year old is unlikely to get into the playing XI under normal circumstances. He will most likely be a backup option for one of their middle-order spots.
Rest three: all-rounder Digvijay Deshmukh and Prince Balwant Rai Singh alongside left-arm pacer Mohsin Khan – had come in from the uncapped pool.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Players purchased: Aaron Finch (INR 4.40 cr), Chris Morris (INR 10.75 cr), Kane Richardson (INR 4.00 cr), Isuru Udana (INR 50 L), Dale Steyn (INR 20 L), Shahbaz Ahmed (INR 20 L), Joshua Philippe (INR 20 L), Pavan Deshpande (INR 20 L).
As many as eight cricketers were roped in by RCB in Kolkata on Thursday, making them one of the busiest teams at the auction. Interestingly, amongst their overseas picks, barring Aaron Finch and Joshua Philippe, all others are fast bowlers. It shows the thought process of this franchise’s new think-tank, which consists of Mike Hesson and Simon Katich.
The problem for RCB over the years has always been their bowling department. In previous seasons they invested the majority of their money on the batting but when it came to bowling, especially at the death, they faltered drastically.
— Royal Challengers (@RCBTweets) December 19, 2019
However, it seems this time the new management group has tried to get a balance in their squad by bringing in Chris Morris, Kane Richardson, Isuru Udana along with old fox Dale Steyn. And with the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini already there in the group of retained players, the Bengaluru-based team will enter next year’s IPL with a formidable fast bowling unit. Furthermore, with so many Indian international cricketers present in their line-up, in helpful pitches Kohli can now afford to pick even two overseas pacers in the playing XI.
Meanwhile, by bringing in Finch, the franchise has added a bit of firepower at the top. Hesson further clarified that with his experience, Finch can be a part of RCB’s ‘leadership group’.
"From an Aaron Finch point of view, he brings a lot of experience to the group. It's not about a second captain, but he adds presence to that leadership group as an overseas player. There's a lot of talent in the squad, and Finch, as someone with a lot of experience, bring a lot to the group," Hesson, the former New Zealand coach and present ‘director of cricket’ of RCB explained.
— Royal Challengers (@RCBTweets) December 19, 2019
Furthermore, amongst their other purchases on Thursday, the hard-hitting Western Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Joshua Philippe was an interesting choice considering the fact that RCB already have Parthiv Patel in their squad. Meanwhile by picking all-rounders Shahbaz Ahmed and Pavan Deshpande, RCB had added more utility options in the mix.
Interestingly, unlike the past occasions, this time the Bengaluru side has kept a considerably smaller squad size. They have just 21 cricketers in their camp this year – least amongst all the IPL teams as of now. It seems by reducing the headcounts; the management wants to involve the maximum members of this squad in the core group.
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