Indian opener K L Rahul hit pay dirt with a Rs 11 crore deal with Kings XI Punjab, while controversial England all-rounder Ben Stokes also triggered a bidding war before going to Rajasthan Royals for Rs 12.50 crore at the IPL auctions today.
However, West Indian swashbuckler Chris Gayle surprisingly went unsold despite his well-established T20 batting credentials. England Test captain Joe Root also went unsold. Indian batsman Karun Nair, who had a base price of Rs 50 lakh, fetched a bid of Rs 5.60 crore from Kings XI Punjab, reaffirming the franchises' interest in Indian players. Australia pacer Mitchell Starc was bought for Rs 9.40 crore by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) while Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) got lucky getting Ravichandran Ashwin for Rs 7.60 crore.
The other big buy among the 16 marquee players was Glenn Maxwell, who was back in the Delhi Daredevils fold after five years for a record Rs 9.40 crore after intense bidding. DD had the last laugh when KXIP refused to use their RTM card. Delhi Daredevils, however, got their probable captain in Gautam Gambhir for a dirt cheap Rs 2.80 crore while Chennai Super Kings bought Harbhajan Singh at his base price of Rs 2 crore. Similarly, another veteran Yuvraj Singh got a deal from Kings XI Punjab for Rs 2 crore. Dwayne Bravo was taken for Rs 6.40 crore by CSK using the RTM card.
It was another big pay day for Stokes, who was bought for Rs 14.5 crore by Rising Pune Supergiants during the last auctions, and proved to be a worthy buy with his all-round performances taking the team to the final. Stokes has been struck with controversies of late and was dropped from the England Ashes squad following a pub brawl. He has even been charged in the matter now.
There were multiple bids from Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings but Steve Smith, Stokes' captain at the Pune franchise, wanted him desperately and thus his owners respected his wish. Kieron Pollard was predictably bought by Mumbai Indians using their Right To Match (RTM) card for Rs 5.40 crore while Sunrisers Hyderabad bought back Shikhar Dhawan for Rs 5.2 crore after heavy bidding from KXIP. Faf du Plessis was retained by CSK for only Rs 1.60 crore while Rajasthan Royals used RTM to retain Ajinkya Rahane for Rs 4 crore.
Kane Williamson was back at Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 3 crore. Former CSK mentor Kris Srikkanth wasn't surprised that Gayle went unsold and CSK didn't go whole hog for Ashwin. "Not at all surprised at Gayle being dropped, RCB’s problem is stock heavy and they will use RTM card for KL Rahul as opening batsman and (Yuzvendra) Chahal, they are Indian cricketers and know the conditions well," Srikkanth said.
On Ashwin, he said: "I expected it, reason is that last year Washington Sundar played under (MS) Dhoni and Steve Smith for (Rising) Pune (Supergiant), and he was the most economical bowler. Now he is a T20 bowler for India, because they have an option in Washington Sunder."