A frantic day a few months out from the new IPL season saw franchises fight it out at the auction table to finalise their squads. At the end of it all, Rohit Sankar rates the performance of the eight franchises in the auction.
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings went all out on Glenn Maxwell before backing out and settling for Moeen Ali, arguably ending up with a better T20 player at a cheaper price. With middle-order power-hitting and a lack of off-spinners a concern, Moeen was an ideal pick for the franchise. Krishnappa Gowtham as a back-up off-spinner and finisher also works in the CSK setup if they do want to sit Moeen out and play a different overseas player. However, their purchase of Cheteshwar Pujara still seems odd, even when the slow decks at Chennai come into consideration.
IPL Auction Rating: 6/10
Delhi Capitals had two of the best value-for-money picks in the auction with the signings of Sam Billings at a base price of INR 2 crore and Umesh Yadav at INR 1 crore. But, they started off on a poor note, adding Steve Smith to their already wide collection of top-order batsmen. Manimaran Siddharth as a left-arm spinner seems to be a back-up for Axar Patel. Vishnu Vinod is a handy top-order hitter but it’s unlikely he’ll get much playing time. Tom Curran as a backup overseas seamer and Lukman Meriwala as a homegrown quick add variety, but aren’t wholly enticing options.
The party really has started again – Steve Smith is snapped up by Delhi Capitals in the IPL auction and is reunited with his 2011 World Cup captain Ricky Ponting 🇦🇺#CWC11Rewind pic.twitter.com/KVhIO5Kb05
— ICC (@ICC) February 18, 2021
IPL Auction Rating: 5/10
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata Knight Riders had to find a back-up for Andre Russell and spinners to cover up for Sunil Narine’s fading performances. They added Ben Cutting and Shakib Al Hasan to fill in these gaps and also purchased good domestic players in Vaibhav Arora, known for his yorkers, and Venkatesh Iyer. Pawan Negi and Harbhajan Singh add to their spin resources where Varun Chakravarthy seemed lonely last season, especially with Kuldeep Yadav’s performances of late spiralling down.
Mumbai Indians released a few overseas quicks and made up for it in the auction with some smart buys. Adam Milne has a good T20 record and will step in as the third seamer alongside Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah. They also bought back Nathan Coulter-Nile at a cheaper price and added young South African left-arm pacer Marco Jansen to the roster.
Jimmy Neesham as a back-up for Kieron Pollard and Piyush Chawla, possibly to bowl in tandem with Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya, are good buys too. Even as the Arjun Tendulkar signing received criticism, the youngster has done well in age-group cricket and like with Hardik Pandya and Bumrah, could be a wildcard pick that might just work.
IPL Auction Rating: 8/10
Punjab Kings had the biggest purse heading into the auction and splurged big on the one area that needed attention: overseas fast bowlers. Jhye Richardson at INR 14 crore and Riley Meredith at INR 8 crore fill different roles as quicks and are good additions to a bowling attack that seemed short of support for Mohammed Shami last season. In Dawid Malan, they made another handy buy as a back-up for Chris Gayle while Tamil Nadu youngster Shahrukh Khan steps in for the finisher role they have always wanted.
Presenting #SaddaSquad for the season! 🦁👑
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) February 18, 2021
In Fabian Allen, acquired at a cheap INR 75 lakh, they have a utility cricketer who can slog in the death and give four quiet overs. Even as the Moises Henriques buy, perhaps as a replacement for Neesham who was released, raises questions, Punjab had a good auction and appears a much stronger team than before.
IPL Auction Rating: 9/10
Rajasthan Royals shelled out INR 16.25 crore for Chris Morris, a record fee for an overseas player, but in doing so, they might have put together the ideal combination of overseas players. Morris alongside Jofra Archer as death bowlers, Ben Stokes as an enforcer with ball and bat and Jos Buttler as the powerhitting opener make Rajasthan a formidable side for this IPL season.
Aside from Morris, they added Shivam Dube as a finisher, an area where Rahul Tewatia sorely needed company last season. Chetan Sakariya and Akash Singh as domestic fast bowlers are also good signings. Overall, Rajasthan look to have plugged a lot of shortcomings with a few shrewd signings this auction. It’s hard to see how the auction could have gone any better for them.
IPL Auction Rating: 9.5/10
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB needed fast bowlers after releasing Umesh Yadav, Chris Morris and Isuru Udana, while Dale Steyn pulled out of the season. They ended up splurging on Glenn Maxwell right at the beginning and backed out of the race for Jhye Richardson too early, instead shelling out even more for Kyle Jamieson, whose reputation has been built in Test cricket on quicker wickets in New Zealand.
Dan Christian was a good pick, and if anything, with his history of title triumphs, they will hope he canturn around their own fortunes. Mohammad Azharuddeen and Rajat Patidar are excellent signings at base prices, and if RCB can use them right, they could turn out to be valuable assets this season. That said, the Maxwell signing, despite the big money spent, does not guarantee them an escape from relying too much on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, a perennial issue. Death bowling aside, their batting issues remain unattended to despite several good players available in the mini auction.
IPL Auction Rating: 4/10
Sunrisers Hyderabad arguably had one of the most settled outfits heading into the IPL auction. They had three slots to fill, and waited too long to get the right players, eventually picking up Kedar Jadhav, who had a very questionable season with CSK last time, at base price in the accelerated auction. In isolation, Mujeeb Ur Rahman is an excellent T20 player, but considering the make-up of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad, he is a strange pick for a role they already have too many players in.
Mohammad Nabi struggled for game time last year with Rashid Khan set in stone as the lead spinner. Mujeeb fulfills the role of a powerplay spinner, same as Nabi, with much lesser potency on the batting front. Aside from completing the set of Afghanistan spinners, Sunrisers’ Mujeeb signing makes little sense, especially when they have a settled group of overseas players. Jagadeesha Suchith as a spin bowling back-up also does not quite fit in with the squad requirements. They ideally needed more firepower in the middle-order and an overseas quick bowler.