Bengaluru: With the eight franchises scrambling to find the right balance in their squads, Jaydev Unadkat emerged as the star offering after Rajasthan Royals splurged Rs 11.5 crore on left-arm seamer on the concluding day of the IPL auctions here on Sunday.
The Unadkat factor is starkly obvious and quite intriguing, which left teams circling in a bidding frenzy. Unadkat was second only to Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the purple cap with a 24-wicket haul in IPL 2017 and had a stupendous year with finalists Rising Pune Supergiant.
The 26-year-old’s pace, verve and ability to swing the ball in the death overs makes him a laudable asset in a format that yearns for incisiveness — both at the start of a game and towards the end.
Starting at a base price of Rs 1.5 crore, the Saurashtra man was initially courted by Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, who were both desperately looking for an Indian spearhead, outbid one another to the Rs 11-crore mark. After Stephen Fleming felt he could stretch his budget no more, Preity Zinta-led KXIP looked odds-on to win the contest, only for Rajasthan Royals to swoop in with an `11.5 crore bid in the eleventh hour. Thus, the 26-year-old with a bevy of stats in his favour — 56 wickets in 47 IPL games and the only Indian to bag two five-wicket hauls — became the most expensive Indian of the IPL-11 auctions.
Gayle third time lucky
Kings XI Punjab did manage to sign Australian speedster Andrew Tye for Rs 7.2 crore, becoming the only other millionaire on Day 2. But the real headline of the day was Zinta offering Chris Gayle a new lease of life in the IPL — at the third time of asking. Gayle, who has terrorised bowling attacks for the better part of a decade in the IPL, was passed over on the first day of the auctions. The West Indian was to go under the hammer on Day 2, but failed to garner interest again. Towards the end, Kings XI snapped him up for his base price of Rs 2 crore as the auction reverberated with a round of applause.
Other high-profile players who were offered another chance were India opener M. Vijay (Rs 2 crore to CSK), wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel (Rs 1.7 crore to RCB), and pacer Mitchell Johnson (Rs 2 crore to KKR)
Players from two associate nations — namely Afghanistan and Nepal — received tremendous attention. Experienced allrounder Mohammad Nabi was sold to Sunrisers for Rs 1 crore while U-19 spin duo Mujeeb Zadran (Rs 4 crore to KXIP) and Zahir Khan (Rs 60 lakh to RR) took the Afghan tally to four players. The auction proved novel in Delhi Daredevils’ signing of Nepalese bowler Sandeep Lamichhane (20 lakh) becoming the first player from his country to feature in the IPL.
Titans from previous seasons such the sling-action speed demon Lasith Malinga found no takers. Even on Sunday, when teams could recall players for bidding, Australian and former Kings XI Punjab stalwart Shaun Marsh, ex-Mumbai man Lendl Simmons, ace SA pacer Dale Steyn were left out. Even Englishman Alex Hales, who is ranked 8th in the T20 batsmen rankings, failed to generate interest.
Karnataka’s latest big-money export
Karnataka all-rounder Gowtham Krishnappa earned himself a massive payday as Rajasthan Royals shelled out a whopping Rs 6.20 crore for him. Given that his base price was Rs 20 lakh, the 29-year-old was picked up for 31 times that value. Last season, Mumbai Indians bought Gowtham for Rs 2 crore. However, he did not get to play as the team captured their third IPL crown. Most recently, Gowtham took six wickets to overpower Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final.