By: Chinmay Vaidya, Aneesh Tyle, Paarth Joshi and Aashay Chavan
The IPL 2021 auction saw some record-breaking buys despite a limited player pool, with big international names like Chris Morris, Kyle Jamieson and Glenn Maxwell raking in the cash. This auction was also important for rising Indian talents such as Krishnappa Gowtham, Shivam Dube and Shahrukh Khan. And if that wasn't enough, a Tendulkar is back in the IPL. Here's our breakdown of the auction results from the best deals to the most confusing moves.
Best Buy of the Auction:
CV: Jimmy Neesham going to Mumbai Indians for 50 lakhs. He's a versatile player who will slot in nicely in Mumbai's lower order while also providing another bowling option for Rohit Sharma. You can never have enough left-handed bats in the order and Neesham provides more punch than Mumbai's other No. 8 options. Throw in his fielding chops and his ability to bowl and you've got a steal at 50 lakhs.
AT: Dawid Malan to Punjab for 1.5 crores. Simply put, he’s the No. 1 T20 batsman in the world and he was bought at an incredibly cheap price. Malan will slot in nicely to a Punjab middle order with Nicholas Pooran and free up KL Rahul to play a more attacking role at the top of the order.
PJ: Malan. At 1.5 crores, he's going to be the best value for his price. Malan brings a strong track record in the T20 format and a No.1 ranking to Punjab and should provide another explosive option for the team at the top with Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul.
AC: Steve Smith or Dawid Malan. Both went for reasonable prices given their talent and both fit well with their respective squads. Smith will be a steady presence in Delhi's high-powered lineup and Malan gives Punjab some great firepower at the top as the ICC's No. 1 T20 batsman.
Worst Buy of the Auction:
CV: Chris Morris going to Rajasthan Royals for 16.25 crores. Morris is a decent player and all-rounders are hard to come by, but this is an insane price for a player who has never topped 200 runs in an IPL season. The Royals have a history of spending big on players who underperform; hopefully Morris can change that trend.
AT: Cheteshwar Pujara to CSK for 50 lakhs. While he’s a cheap buy, Pujara is firmly a Test player and hasn’t featured in Indian limited overs cricket anytime recently. He may perform a similar role to when Delhi got Ajinkya Rahane last year, but any game he plays is a chance taken away from a younger Indian player to develop. He’s better off signed as a coach, rather than a player.
PJ: Jhye Richardson to Punjab Kings for 14 crores. Despite coming off a fantastic BBL, Richardson is still inexperienced when it comes to international cricket and subcontinent pitches. At the price tag he’s gone for, it’s going to be very tough to live up to expectations especially after seeing how highly paid Australian fast bowlers have struggled in the IPL in the past.
AC: Glenn Maxwell or Jhye Richardson. Maxwell's price somehow went up despite a horrendous 2020 IPL campaign and although he's capable of delivering big innings, he's been underwhelming recently. Richardson hasn't appeared in the IPL before and I don't know if he can handle the pressure of a high price tag.
Team with Best Moves:
CV: Delhi Capitals. They bring back the entire group from last year's run to the final, but bolster their secondary international options with Steven Smith, Tom Curran and Sam Billings while also adding Umesh Yadav as a backup pace option. Smith could provide a stabilizing presence in the middle order around Delhi's explosive batsmen if the lineup becomes too volatile.
AT: RCB. Although they got lured into breaking the bank for Maxwell, their overseas buys of Jamieson, Maxwell, and Dan Christian have some of the most upside in the T20 game. After AB de Villiers, their lower order sorely lacked hitting power, which all three can provide. The trio also provides great variety as all-rounders to a previously predominantly Indian bowling attack, which will also be improved since Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar, and Mohammed Siraj all got valuable experience in the recent England and Australia series. This is a team to watch out for if it clicks.
PJ: RCB. They've got big-time names in Jamieson and Maxwell and both will fill important roles for the team which should be in contention for a playoff spot with a strong Indian core and de Villiers coming off a long break.
AC: RCB or Delhi. Despite Maxwell being a costly addition, he's a strong candidate to return to at least average form. Jamieson and Dan Christian will be handy additions in a strong lineup. Delhi solidified their core as well with Smith, Curran and Billings.
Team with Worst Moves:
CV: Plenty of options here, but Punjab Kings made some shocking moves. Despite getting Malan and Fabian Allen for bargain prices, the franchise broke the bank for Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Shahrukh Khan and Moises Henriques. Three have never appeared in an IPL match and Henriques last played in the league in 2017. Spending north of 30 crores for the quartet feels risky, especially since one big international buy is going to miss out if Malan and Nicolas Pooran are in the XI.
AT: Sunrisers Hyderabad had a very quiet auction. This team needed Indian batsmen and foreign pacers, but didn’t get either in the auction. Kedar Jadhav may slot into their lineup although he has struggled for a while. Mujeeb bowling in tandem with Rashid is an exciting prospect, but would cost SRH an overseas batsman in their lineup which they desperately need to play. A veteran overseas pacer would be a big boost for an Indian pace attack that is often struck by the injury bug.
PJ: CSK. The team needed to add power hitting at the top, but instead broke the bank for all-rounders Krishnappa Gowtham and Moeen Ali. Suresh Raina coming back in the mix should help CSK a little, but this team still lacks the batting power to make significant noise.
AC: CSK. I have no clue what they are trying to do with that team. MS Dhoni isn't the batsman he once was and the squad showed its age last IPL season. Not sure if Raina returning will make any impact.
Biggest Surprise of the Auction:
CV: The general lack of analytics in the decision-making process. Shakib Al Hasan, possibly the best all-rounder in the world, went for 3.2 crores amid the big spending on Gowtham, Meredith and Maxwell. Malan, the No. 1 ranked T20 batsman, went for 1.5 crores while backups and unproven talent went for far greater prices. Sunrisers bought Mujeeb for 1.5 crores, but how many games will he get with David Warner, Kane Williamson, Rashid Khan and Jason Holder likely to be in the first XI? Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Glenn Phillips all carry T20 strike rates around 140.00. All three went unsold.
AT: Alex Hales going unsold. He’s one of the most dynamic top order batsmen in limited over cricket, especially in T20 cricket. Hales hasn’t played international cricket recently due to issues with the ECB, but he always performs in domestic tournaments. He would slot into most teams’ opening pair if bought.
PJ: Krishnappa Gowtham going to CSK for 9.25 crores. Given his fellow cast, there is not much firepower around him to make Gowtham look like he deserves his paycheck. CSK will be stretched again to score big runs and that will not bode well for his outlook, especially with his limited IPL match experience.
AC: Chris Morris going for 16.25 crores when his base price was 75 lakhs is the height of reckless bidding. Aaron Finch and Jason Roy going unsold is also surprising given their international track record in the format.