Retail therapy: on the IPL 2018 auction

The Indian Premier League player auction is a parallel cricketing universe with a distinct dynamic. Over the weekend at a Bengaluru hotel, the IPL’s top brass congregated with a wish-list that had no space for nostalgia. Lasith Malinga found no takers while Chris Gayle, perhaps the most explosive batsman in the history of Twenty20, was rejected twice before he got third-time lucky when Kings XI Punjab snapped up the opener at his base price of ₹2 crore. There was no respect either for doughty batting performances in Tests. South Africa’s Hashim Amla, who played his part in the recent match at Johannesburg’s Wanderers, was ignored, and Cheteshwar Pujara found no suitors in the IPL. In Twenty20’s roller-coaster ride, the attributes of patience and grit, so mandatory in Tests, have comparatively little value. The accent is on explosive batting, miserly bowling, athletic fielding and, above all, the ability to remain iceberg-cool when the fires of a nerve-racking last over are raging. The all-rounder, cricket’s version of a miracle-dispenser, remains mighty expensive. It was no surprise when England’s Ben Stokes, despite the legal issues trailing him back home following an assault incident, got the highest bid at ₹12.5 crore from Rajasthan Royals.


Royals and Chennai Super Kings, both coming back after a two-year suspension following spot fixing and betting allegations, struck to their usual methods. Royals remained alert to building a strong core. CSK continued its patented approach of nurturing its nucleus, as was evident in the way it retained M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja prior to the auction, and when auctioneer Richard Madley punched his gavel, IPL’s most consistent outfit exercised its right-to-match card and snapped up another regular Dwayne Bravo. CSK was also aware of its cost dynamics and didn’t pursue R. Ashwin once he crossed the ₹4 crore mark but instead nailed Harbhajan Singh at ₹2 crore. True to its trope of bucking trends, the auction witnessed massive money chasing a left-arm fast bowler, and Jaydev Unadkat became the most expensive Indian with a ₹11.5 crore price tag from Royals. As in previous years, the latest auction gifted a bonanza to the unsung first-class cricketer. Krunal Pandya got ₹8.8 crore from Mumbai Indians, and he is yet to play for India unlike his famous sibling Hardik. Among the overseas players, it was heartening to see the price that Afghan players like Rashid Khan commanded, while Sandeep Lamichhane, picked by Delhi Daredevils, became the first Nepal cricketer to join the IPL bandwagon. The eight IPL squads have taken shape afresh and the players are laughing all the way to the bank. Whether that would translate into ideal performance will be known once the league’s eleventh edition starts in April.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 10:45:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/retail-therapy/article22545430.ece

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