It's that time of the year again when excitement is in the air. Hope, anxiety and nerves grip the cricketers as they look forward to the Indian Premier League auctions. The auctions in the past have proved to be life-changing ones for many. As the players prepare to go under the hammer yet again for the 2020 season, cricketers share their auction day experiences which left them emotional and stunned on the big fat payday.
Unknown speedster Nathu Singh entered the big league when he was bought for a whopping Rs 3.2 crore, 32 times his base price, by Mumbai Indians in the 2016 IPL auctions. The Rajasthan pacer recalls the 'best day of his life'.
It all started with my debut Ranji Trophy match in 2015. I had picked up eight wickets against Delhi at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. I was bowling well at that time and possessed decent pace so my teammates and seniors at Rajasthan asked me to enroll my name in the IPL. Even the selectors and groundstaff used to like me a lot. They also encouraged me to go for it. So, I filled in the 2016 IPL auction form. After that I performed well in my debut Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, picking up seven wickets from five matches at 16.14. During that tournament, the scouts from Mumbai Indians and other franchises had come to watch me.
I didn't have any expectations from the auctions. I was like, 'Let's enroll the name, if it clicks, great, if it doesn't, life goes on'. Never in my wildest of dreams had I imagined that I would be bought for Rs 3.2 crore, by Mumbai Indians. I was just 19 at that time and had only played U-19 cricket before getting straight into the Rajasthan Ranji Trophy team.
The auction day neared but since I wasn't expecting too much, there were no nerves. The night before the auction I slept well not knowing the madness that was about to ensue the next day.
It was all normal to start off. I woke up at 7 am on the auction day. But then my area friends suddenly arrived home and asked me to quickly get ready to visit the temple since it was a big day. So we set out on a temple tour, firstly I did my pooja at the well-known Samod Hanuman Mandir in Jaipur and also visited the Salasar temple, about 100 km from Jaipur. I just prayed that I want to play for India and I don't ever lose my focus in my career.
When we came back, my name still hadn't come up in the auction. I loved playing tennis ball cricket, so all the friends decided to play gully cricket outside my one of my friend's houses. We asked one of them to sit glued to the television and call us as soon as my name cropped up.
Just as we started enjoying our cricket, my friend suddenly called up and within microseconds, all 10-15 of us just stormed into his house and took our positions on the bed. It was the first time my nerves started jangling.
The bid kept increasing and we started jumping on the bed, throwing the pillows and whatever we got hold of in our hands. We went crazy that day and so had my friend's family members.
When the hammer went down on the Rs 3.2 crore bid by Mumbai Indians, hum log khushi ke maare paagal ho gaye (We all went mad with happiness). The money didn't matter to me. If the hammer had gone down on Rs 2 crore instead of 3, it wouldn't have mattered. I just wanted to play cricket. Ek ajeeb si feeling aa rahi thi ki life me kuch kiya hai (I got this weird feeling that I had achieved something in life).
However, the next day I started feeling a bit self-conscious. I have to remain fit and need to make sure that if I get to play in the IPL I end up performing.
We didn't wait for the auctions to finish. We just went out to celebrate. Then I went home and a lot of media had gathered. I spent time with the reporters and then finally with my family. In the evening I went to meet my coaches and when I came back home friends had created a carnival type of atmosphere and we just started dancing.
My phone had completely drained during the auction. I had put it on charge and completely forgot about it in the midst of the celebration. Then I saw a barrage of missed calls and messages. There was a special moment with my father, who had just come back from work, hugged me and said, 'I am really feeling proud today' while my mother kept showering blessings.
My teammate Aniket Choudhary called me that day and advised me to take care of myself, focus on cricket and gave me tips on how to prepare for the IPL. He had the experience of playing in one of the biggest leagues. He told me 'don't go into the league thinking that you are from a small village. Khul ke raho, don't remain secluded'.
All the madness didn't sink in that day. I only started believing it the next day. Kaahan se kaahan pohoch gaya. A boy from small town was entering the big league to play for Mumbai Indians. I was feeling proud as well as extra responsible.
The next day Akash (Ambani) bhaiya called me up to congratulate and welcomed me in the team. I didn't know he was the team owner. I just replied with a 'thank you' but moments later Rahul Sanghvi, who was a part of Mumbai Indians setup and knew me for a long time, asked me whether Akash Ambani had called up. I said yes. He informed me he's our team owner. I was shocked and animatedly called Akash bhaiya back and apoligised, 'sorry sir', he quickly calmed me down saying 'sir mat bolo, mai aapki age ka hi hu (Don't call me sir, I am of your age only)'. He is a really nice person.
On my first day in the team, I was feeling really nervous, a lot of questions started oscillating in my mind: what's the atmosphere like in an IPL team like? How do I behave? How to talk to foreign players? I was finding it difficult to understand. But Rahul (Sanghvi) bhaiya supported me a lot. He appeased my nerves. He just told me, 'Don't think that you were bought for Rs 3.2 crore or you've come from a small town. Just bowl like you are bowling in Ranji Trophy, don't change yourself.' It also took off the pressure of the price tag. I never received any pressure from my owners to perform because they had shelled out massive money on me. In fact, Aakash bhaiya was very supportive all the time, I didn't know English so he used to make me understand things in Hindi. If I get a chance I would like to play for Mumbai Indians again.
What did I do with the money? Well, I built a bungalow and gifted it to my parents as we were living in a very small house. And then I bought a Hyundai Creta car. I am a fast bowler and faced a lot of problems while travelling by bus or bike. I felt that I have gone one level above, now my cricket was extremely important so I have to remain fit, taking care of myself was extremely important. The rest I invested in a business and real estate.
Woh meri life ka sabse best din tha. Par aasha hai ki meri life me isse zyaada accha wala best din aaye. (That was the best day of my life but I hope that I see a better day than this).
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