Chennai Super Kings bucked the trend of bidding for young cricketers on the opening day of the two-day IPL mega auction. Though the former champions might still get to pick a lot of youngsters on the morrow, their lot on Saturday resembled a dad’s army when compared to some of the other teams who were aggressive in going after uncapped players.
“It is not just about fielding a team for this season. We have to look to build a team for the next three to fours years,” said Ricky Ponting, representing Delhi Daredevils, while justifying the hectic bidding for uncapped players.
“You might even realise that some of the uncapped players have been bought for a higher sum than the national players. This is because T20 is increasingly becoming a young man’s game. You need the enthusiasm, athleticism, reflexes and energy to deliver all the time. By the time a cricketer is in his early to mid-30s he starts to slow down. That’s the reality. This is one reason why franchises are looking for young players. You need players who will serve you for the next three to four years,” he said.
This train of thought was seen right through the day, especially in the afternoon. The morning was taken up by the sale of marquee players and barring the youthful Ben Stokes (Rs 12.5 crores) and pacy Mitchell Starc (Rs 9.4 crores) it wasn’t as coveted as expected.
The second lot of the morning was worse. Glenn Maxwell went for Rs 9.4 crores but most of the others went for sub-Rs 3 crores. Gautam Gambhir, who in all probability will lead Delhi Daredevils, went for a mere Rs 2.8 crore.
But the afternoon saw some terrific purchases. Royal Challengers Bangalore who have always had an issue with bowlers, went aggressively for young fast bowlers this time around. Besides India pacer Umesh Yadav, they bagged Navdeep Saini, Aniket Choudhary and Kulwant Khejroliya. They used the RTM card for Yuzvendra Chahal and also purchased England fast bowling all rounder Chris Woakes.
Mumbai Indians came with a definite plan. Their first objective was to retain their proven stars Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya. They did that and added pace bowling muscle with the purchase of Pat Cummins and Mustafizur Rehman. MI will complete their team with the second day’s auction.
Rajasthan Royals too were pretty smart. They bought two exciting overseas cricketers, the young and dynamic West Indies all rounder Jofra Archer who has done tremendously well in England and Australian leagues. The West Indian lad hopes to qualify to play for England in 2022 and till then will set international leagues on fire with his explosive brand of cricket. RR also bagged the promising Australian cricketer D’Arcy Short.
Their best purchase was Stokes who should complement their mix very well.
Delhi Daredevils got hold of potential star Prithvi Shaw and then added a number of other youngsters, Avesh Khan, Vijay Shankar and Rahul Tewati.
Sunrisers Hyderabad were another franchise which bought a number of outstanding youngsters. They headlined with the Afghan Rashid Khan and then went on to grab Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Basil Thampi, Siddharth Kaul, Ricky Bhui and Deepak Hooda. Along with David Warner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hassan, Kane Williamson and Wriddhiman Saha they look a very impressive side already.
The remarkable U-19 fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkatti and other youngsters, Shubham Gill, Ishank Jaggi and Kuldeep Yadav were pouched by Kolkatta Knight Riders. Nagarkatti who bowls upwards of 145 kmph will get to bowl in tandem with the formidable Starc and that should benefit him tremendously.
CSK have banked on the tried and tested on the opening day. Barring leg spinner Karn Sharma most of their players are around 30 years of age. They have Dhoni, Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Bravo, Harbhajan, Faf du Pleisses, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadav, Imran Tahir and Ambatti Rayudu. It would be interesting to see their choice of players on the morrow.
A total of 49 Indians and 29 overseas players were bought on Saturday for a combined amount of Rs 321.10 crore. Earlier Rs 197 crore was spent on retention of players.
The underlying story of the day was the remarkable interest in youth. They virtually elbowed out the redoubtable Chris Gayle and Mitchell Johnson out of the reckoning, at least for the day. And that’s really saying something.