Anirudh Suresh
23 Dec 2022 | 08:57 PM

Breaking down the IPL 2023 auction ft. PBKS, RR, CSK, GT and KKR

How did Punjab, Rajasthan, Chennai, Gujarat and Kolkata fare in this year's auction? We break down what each of these sides did at the auction table.

Punjab Kings

Retained (plus traded) players

Shikhar Dhawan (c), Shahrukh Khan, Jonny Bairstow, Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma, Raj Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Nathan Ellis, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar

Purchases made

Sam Curran (INR 18.5 crore), Sikandar Raza (INR 50 lakh), Shivam Singh (INR 20 lakh), Mohit Rathee (INR 20 lakh), Vidwath Kaverappa (INR 20 lakh), Harpreet Bhatia (INR 40 lakh)

Here’s something absolutely crazy: despite making the costliest purchase in IPL history, Punjab exited the IPL 2023 auction with 12.20 crore in their kitty. Which was more than KKR, LSG, MI, CSK and RCB combined. So the Kings under-spent, and it was a really bizarre auction from their part as they barely fought for players outside of Curran; Mayank Agarwal was the only other and they gave up on him after the INR 3.60 crore mark.

Heading into the auction, Punjab needed a No.7 on priority and to their credit, they secured the services of the best one in the market. Absence of a world-class (bowling) all-rounder plagued the Kings last season, so with Curran’s purchase, that’s been fixed. 

They needed more reinforcements on the Indian pace bowling front having let go both Vaibhav Arora and Sandeep Sharma and while they made a smart purchase in Karnataka’s Vidwath Kaverappa, the Kings are still short on that front. From Unadkat to Mavi or Mukesh Kumar, any signing would have been a valuable addition, and the franchise had the money for that too, but unfathomably enough, they chose not to bolster the seam department. 

You look at the squad and feel they don’t possess strength in depth in the spin department (local spinners, specifically). And pffft, with 12 crore remaining, they most certainly ‘should’ have acquired another quality player. Perhaps another world-class leggie? A renowned Indian batter? (tsk tsk, Mayank) or maybe even a back-up for Bairstow (tsk tsk, Mayank? (x2)).

Punjab are absolutely stacked when it comes to death bowling — Arshdeep + Curran and not to forget Ellis too, phew — but in the end everything will come down to how they choose to utilize their resources. With Curran secured, their best bet might now be to instead use Arshdeep up-front, with Ellis complementing Curran at the back-end. But will they be brave enough to drop Rabada? Good thing, they have about four months to make the wise and right call.

Likely XI

Shikhar Dhawan, Jonny Bairstow, Prabhsimran Singh, Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma, Shahrukh Khan, Sam Curran, Harpreet Brar, Kagiso Rabada / Nathan Ellis, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh

Auction verdict: Average

Rajasthan Royals

Retained (plus traded) players

Sanju Samson (c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Jos Buttler, Dhruv Jurel, Riyan Parag, Prasidh Krishna, Trent Boult, Obed McCoy, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Sen, Kuldip Yadav, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, KC Cariappa

Purchases made

Joe Root (INR 1 crore), Abdul P A (INR 20 lakh), Akash Vashisht (INR 20 lakh), Murugan Ashwin (INR 20 lakh), KM Asif (INR 30 lakh), Adam Zampa (INR 1.5 crore), Kunal Rathore (INR 20 lakh), Donovan Ferreira (INR 50 lakh), Jason Holder (INR 5.75 crore)

One of the two clear winners of the 2023 auction. When you’re a finalist you already have quality, and all you wanna do in a mini-auction is fix holes and strengthen the side: RR, in the auction, did just that.

Again, like Punjab, RR, last season, were severely hurt by the absence of an out-and-out pace-bowling all-rounder at No.7. Thanks to that, at times, they had an absurdly long tail. At the auction, they went a long way in addressing the same by securing the services of Jason Holder. They went all-in for Sam Curran but ultimately had to settle for Holder. Still a fine, hole-fixing, balance-improving addition.

RR had the best spin-attack last season and today, they strengthened it further by roping in Zampa and Murugan Ashwin. They added more pace to their already-pacy fast-bowling stocks too, snatching KM Asif. Calling their bowling attack ‘stacked’ will be an understatement.

They’ve taken a punt on Donovan Ferreira — a young finisher with outrageous numbers — and it could very well come off. In the recently concluded CSA T20 edition, Ferreira, according to our impact model, was the second-best batter in the entire competition behind Dewald Brevis. So, under-estimate the kid at your own peril.

Root, erm, is an ‘interesting’ signing but let’s not tear into RR for that. ‘Cause you never know, right? RIGHT?

Overall, RR seem to have a complete squad; no glaring holes or weaknesses. Their squad also seems perfectly suited to utilize the ‘Impact Player’ rule effectively.  Good job, you Royals!

Likely XI

Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Jason Holder, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna

Auction verdict: Very good

Chennai Super Kings

Retained (plus traded) players

MS Dhoni (c), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Subhranshu Senapati, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Dwaine Pretorius, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Tushar Deshpande, Mukesh Chowdhary, Matheesha Pathirana, Simarjeet Singh, Deepak Chahar, Prashant Solanki, Maheesh Theekshana

Purchases made

Ben Stokes (INR 16.25 crore), Ajinkya Rahane (INR 50 lakh), Bhagath Varma (INR 20 lakh), Ajay Mandal (INR 20 lakh), Kyle Jamieson (INR 1 crore), Nishant Sindhu (INR 60 lakh), Shaik Rasheed (INR 20 lakh)

What’s more shocking? That CSK splashed more than 16 crore on an Englishman not named Sam Curran, or that they managed to sign two U19 stars in the same window? 

Not sure. But you know what’s NOT shocking? The fact that they went ahead and purchased Ajinkya Rahane. (If we’re being brutally honest, the most inexplicable pick this year).

Either way, CSK have had an interesting auction. 

Heading into Friday, they needed an experienced Indian top-order batter (Uthappa replacement) and an all-rounder-cum-death-bowler (Bravo replacement). In the end, they got neither. That they went all the way up to INR 8.00 crore for Mayank tells us that they knew they needed the 31-year-old, who was, by some distance, the best Indian batter available in the auction on Friday.

Stokes, make no mistake, adds quality to the batting, but his purchase complicates team selection a tad. CSK will now have to choose between Theekshana and Pretorius. Ideally, they’d have liked to have both in the XI; the former for his prowess up-front and the latter for his effectiveness towards the end. 

In case they go ahead and pick those two anyway, CSK would then have to leave out Devon Conway, given Moeen Ali is a lock. It’s a not-so-ideal scenario too, given there’s not a lot of evidence that suggests Stokes is a better T20 batter than Conway.

With the purchase of Curran (who would have either replaced Pretorius in the XI or played alongside the Protea), CSK would have solved their death-bowling woes, but that hole hasn’t been plugged. It remains intact. 

And nope, Kyle Jamieson is not ‘that’ guy. Not in T20s, at least.

Curran + Mayank would have been perfect, but now it feels like CSK will have to do vintage CSK things to go all the way.

Likely XI 

Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwaine Pretorius, MS Dhoni, Deepak Chahar, Mukesh Choudhary, Rajvardhan Hangargekar / Simarjeet Singh

Auction verdict: Average

Kolkata Knight Riders

Retained (plus traded) players

Shreyas Iyer (c), Nitish Rana, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakravarthy, Anukul Roy, Rinku Singh

Purchases made

Shakib Al Hasan (INR 1.5 crore), Mandeep Singh (INR 50 lakh), Litton Das (INR 50 lakh), Kulwant Khejroliya (INR 20 lakh), David Wiese (INR 1 crore), Suyash Sharma (INR 20 lakh), Vaibhav Arora (INR 60 lakh), N. Jagadeesan (INR 90 lakh)

Having the lowest purse and needing to fill the highest number of slots of all teams, KKR, truth be told, did a satisfactory job at the auction. 

An Indian wicket-keeper was at top of their priority list and, as many predicted, they went ahead and sealed the services of Narayan Jagadeesan. Only time will tell if Jagadeesan’s brutal Vijay Hazare form trickles down to T20s — to this date, he’s been an anchor in T20s — but it’s a calculated gamble. 

A rather curious pick, though, is that of Liton Das. If KKR were to ask themselves if Das was the best back-up overseas wicket-keeper available in the auction, it won’t take long for them to find out that the answer is ‘no’.

Shakib feels like a random pick too, but it’s hard to fault them given the budget they had at their disposal. Perhaps on turning tracks, Shakib could turn out to be a handful — like he did in 2021 — operating alongside both Narine and Chakravarthy. (Copium???).

David Wiese is a massive upgrade on the released Chamika Karunaratne and is a great back-up for Russell, and he is one of two ‘steals’ KKR managed on the night, the other being Vaibhav Arora for 60 lakh. Vaibhav’s arrival means KKR will no longer have to rely on Umesh and Southee for new-ball breakthroughs. 

That being said, death bowling was KKR’s biggest issue last season — their pacers’ ER of 11.7 at the death was the worst amongst all sides — and they’ve tried solving the issue by putting all their eggs in the Shardul-Ferguson basket. It’s a gamble that could easily end up backfiring. 

Likely XI

N Jagadeesan, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson 

Auction verdict: Average

Gujarat Titans

Retained (plus traded) players

Hardik Pandya (c), Shubman Gill, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan, Darshan Nalkande, Jayant Yadav, R Sai Kishore, Noor Ahmad

Purchases made

Mohit Sharma (INR 50 lakh), Joshua Little (INR 4.4 crore), Urvil Patel (INR 20 lakh), Shivam Mavi (INR 6 crore), KS Bharat (INR 1.2 crore), Odean Smith (INR 50 lakh), Kane Williamson (INR 2 crore)

Breaking down / analyzing Gujarat Titans’ squad / purchases does feel like a pointless exercise. Because after nearly everyone unanimously branded them the ‘worst’ among all sides post the mega auction, they went on to lift the title.

So while they might have, on paper, made a few questionable signings (such as Williamson, Odean Smith, Mohit Sharma etc), it truly feels like there’s no point critiquing the purchases and the squad.

For the Titans, everything fell in place last season and they ended up winning. Maybe the same will happen this time around too. Maybe Williamson is going to go full 2018, maybe Odean Smith is going to channel his inner Andre Russell.

Likely XI

Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha, Kane Williamson, Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, R Sai Kishore, Alzarri Joseph, Mohammed Shami, Shivam Mavi / Yash Dayal 

Auction verdict: Terrible

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