The IPL auctions once again garnered huge attention as several international and domestic stars were sold on Tuesday at Jaipur. As many as 60 slots out of the 70 available were filled up as teams played out their strategies and switched plans on the go to acquire the best possible balance. Two franchises, who were hopeful of churning out a winning combination after years of struggle were Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). Both had several loopholes to fill before the auction and played their cards close to the chests in the build-up before going all out at the auction table to secure some massive players ahead of the big season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB came to the auction looking to acquire player who can give the much-needed company in the middle-order to their batting stalwarts, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. They endlessly pursued middle-order batsmen on Tuesday and secured the services of as many as eight of them. Right from Shivam Dube, who was earmarked to go big at the auctions to 16-year old leg-spinner Prayas Ray Barman, RCB made some sound choices but the focus was on middle-order batsmen.
Considering Dube can bat in the top 6, they picked as many as eight batsmen including South African wicket-keeper Heinrich Klaasen. Shimron Hetmyer was another notable buy for the Bengaluru-based franchise and the Windies batsman is expected to fill one of the four overseas spots. The big-hitting middle-order batsman should give adequate company to De Villiers and Kohli. A handful of Indian domestic players including current season's Ranji Trophy top-scorer Milind Kumar were also acquired.
RCB perhaps missed out on sharpening the bowling attack a touch with Marcus Stoinis - acquired during the trading window - and Shivam Dube being the only new additions in the seam-bowling department. Stoinis can also be expected to shore up some of RCB's middle-order concerns. Dube's all-round credentials should see him start in the middle-order.
Batsmen: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Gurkeerat Singh, Himmat Singh, Milind Kumar, Akshdeep Nath
Spin-bowling all-rounders: Moeen Ali, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi
Seam-bowling all-rounders: Colin de Grandhomme, Marcus Stoinis, Shivam Dube
Fast bowlers: Navdeep Saini, Mohammad Siraj, Kulwant Khejroliya, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Nathan Coulter-Nile
Spinners: Yuzvendra Chahal, Prayas Ray Barman
Wicket-keeper: Parthiv Patel, Heinrich Klaasen
Best buys: Shimron Hetmyer (Rs 4.2 crores), Heinrich Klaasen (Rs 50 lakh), Shivam Dube (Rs 5 crore)
Missing: A back-up death bowling option
Verdict: RCB covered most bases in the auction but would perhaps rue that they didn't add a versatile death bowler with variations.
Possible XI: Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, AB de Villiers, Shimron Hetmyer, Shivam Dube, Akshdeep Nath, Marcus Stoinis, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile
Kings XI Punjab
KXIP under Mike Hesson were measured at the auction despite a heavy purse and had a clear intention of stocking up on their strengths. They went all out in pursuit of Tamil Nadu mystery
spinner Varun Chakravarthy and acquired him for a whopping Rs 8.4 crore. He adds value to a line-up that already has a couple of T20 bowling gems in Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Andrew Tye. Sam Curran was another notable acquisiton as the 20-year-old was bought for 7.2 crores to fill the seam-bowling all-rounder slot.
Curran's availability for the entire duration of the IPL should help Kings XI who also stole Moises Henriques for Rs 1 crore to sort out their middle-order concerns. Henriques will be a like-for-like replacement for Marcus Stoinis who was traded out. That said, both their all-rounders are overseas players and while they spent big on a few domestic players, Kings XI did not actively pursue Indian middle-order batsmen which could bite them back.
There was also focus on fast bowlers as the franchise acquired the services of T10 bowling sensation, Hardus Viljoen from South Africa, Mohammad Shami, for an exorbitant price, and a couple of other domestic talents. Wicket-keeping was another area of concern ahead of the auctions for Kings XI and they amped that up with the addition of young Windies player Nicholas Pooran, known for his big hitting capabilities, and domestic under-19 star Prabhsimran Singh, who sparked a bidding war and was eventually bought for Rs 4.8 crore.
The spin bowling department is complete with Chakravarthy, who will be a possible back-up for Mujeeb and if combinations don't allow the inclusion of the Afghan spinner, the Tamil Nadu spinner can be a like-for-like replacement given his variations. The addition of Murugan Ashwin further deepens their pool.
Batsmen: KL Rahul (possible keeper), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Agnivesh Ayachi
Spin-bowling all-rounders: Harpreet Brar
Seam-bowling all-rounders: Moises Henriques, Sam Curran
Fast bowlers: Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Hardus Viljoen, Mohammad Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande
Spinners: Ravichandran Ashwin, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Varun Chakravarthy, Murugan Ashwin
Wicket-keeper: Nicholas Pooran, Prabhsimran Singh
Best buys: Moises Henriques (Rs 1 crore), Varun Chakravarthy (Rs 8.4 crore)
Missing: Some solid Indian middle-order batsmen and all-rounders to replace Axar Patel are still missing as they failed to find the right players despite several of them going unsold.
Verdict: A decent auction for them but it remains to be seen if their big buys can justify their hefty price tags.
Possible XI: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Prabhsimran Singh, Karun Nair, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Varun Chakravarthy, Andrew Tye