Having strengthened their batting (and balance) by trading Hardik Pandya, Mumbai Indians entered the auction needing reinforcements on the bowling front, which had a lot of cracks.
From the POV of securing pacers, the auction went as well as MI could have hoped for: they secured a primary target in Gerald Coetzee (for a very reasonable 5 cr) and snapped up an outstanding secondary target in Dilshan Madushanka.
They didn’t have the purse to purchase Mitchell Starc, but Bumrah, Behrendorff, Coetzee, Madushanka, Shepherd, Madhwal & Thushara is a very strong pace bowling battery. Pre-auction, MI would have taken this line-up with both hands, if you’d offered it to them.
So, batting - strong ✅ pace bowling - strong ✅
However, there is still a gaping hole in the spin department. MI got Shreyas Gopal for his base price, and then later managed to bring in Mohammad Nabi, but this squad is devoid of an x-factor in the spin department.
Which is why it was puzzling to see MI not go for both Wanindu Hasaranga & Adil Rashid, both of whom were not even in high demand (Rashid went unsold).
Overall, a pretty good auction, but buying a world class leggie would have made it a 9.5/10 window.
MI likely XI: Ishan Kishan (wk), Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Hardik Pandya (capt), Tim David, Nehal Wadhera, Gerald Coetzee, Piyush Chawla, Jason Behrendorff, Jasprit Bumrah (impact player: Akash Madhwal)
Auction verdict: Very good
Sunrisers went insane at the auction table with the Pat Cummins purchase (20.50 crore), but if we were to take a step back, they actually managed to secure Cummins & Wanindu Hasaranga for 22 crore combined, which is extraordinary.
Before today, SRH needed a bankable overseas pacer, a world class spinner and a good bowling all-rounder. Through Cummins & Hasaranga, they’ve managed to strike three birds with two stones.
They’ve made full use of their large purse, getting the best spinner in the market and one of the best pacers available on the day.
BUT……we need to talk about the Travis Head purchase.
With Markram, Klaasen & Phillips retained, the last thing SRH needed was an expensive overseas batter. That too an opener, with there already being congestion at the top due to the presence of Agarwal, Tripathi & Abishek.
Now, by buying Head, SRH have created a massive headache for themselves. This purchase means that one of Markram, Head or Hasaranga WILL have to warm the bench, with Cummins & Klaasen being locks.
Head sitting out will make SRH look foolish — why even splash the cash on an overseas opener if you’re gonna bench him? Benching Markram will mean he’ll have to be sacked as captain (and that’s a realistic possibility, with Cummins coming in) but that’ll also be a very hasty move. Leaving out Hasaranga is the safest option (optics wise) but it’ll weaken their XI significantly. Remember, last year, SRH’s spinners were the second-worst in the entire competition.
All this could have been avoided had SRH used the Head money to instead buy a solid Indian middle-order batter / finisher, which they anyway needed (and still need), with Abdul Samad’s career not taking off.
There’s also a problem of plenty on the bowling front. The expensive Cummins buy effectively makes both Jansen & Farooqi obsolete. And on top of the aforementioned two left-armers & Natarajan, they’ve gone ahead and bought two more left-armers, Unadkat & Akash Singh.
Some big names will likely be warming the bench for the entire season. The team dynamics could potentially become ugly if they don’t win.
SRH likely XI: Travis Head, Mayank Agarwal, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram (capt), Abhishek Sharma, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Abdul Samad, Washington Sundar, Pat Cummins, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik (impact player: T Natarajan)
Auction verdict: Good
Chennai Super Kings
Entering the auction with nearly 32 crore in the bank, everyone expected Chennai Super Kings to buy one of the marquee overseas seamers. However, despite bidding for Cummins & Coetzee among others, CSK, somehow, ended up with Mustafizur Rahman (2 cr base price) as their only overseas pace reinforcement.
They did, however, land Shardul Thakur (that too just for 4 crore), so that’s a win from a CSK standpoint.
They might have fumbled on the pace front, but CSK had the perfect possible auction in terms of batting reinforcements. The franchise needed a Ambati Rayudu replacement, and they got a near perfect like-for-like in the form of Daryl Mitchell. They paid obscene money for Mitchell (14 crore) but they could afford it.
And, on top of that, CSK landed another hot prospect in Sameer Rizvi. That’s the Rayudu replacement + Impact Player both sorted. The signing of Rachin Ravindra, as head coach Stephen Fleming said, is a big bonus.
All said, CSK undeniably look thin on the pace bowling front, but MS Dhoni has won titles with weaker bowling line-ups. Shardul, Chahar and the spinners might just be enough for him to captain the Super Kings to their sixth IPL title.
CSK likely XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ajinkya Rahane, Daryl Mitchell, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Matheesha Pathirana (Impact Player: Sameer Rizvi)
Auction verdict: Good (could have been better)
Kolkata Knight Riders
In the single most outrageous act in the history of IPL auctions, KKR blew nearly 80% of their purse ON A SINGLE PLAYER, purchasing Mitchell Starc for 24.75 crore (yes, you read that right).
But let’s ignore the price tag and take a look at whether KKR, overall, did a good job at the auction table.
Heading into the auction, KKR desperately needed a world-class overseas pacer and through landing Starc, they got just that. They also got a very shrewd backup in the form of Gus Atkinson.
But though they managed to get a marquee seamer, the price they paid for Starc stopped them from buying quality, experienced Indian seamers.
KKR got Chetan Sakariya, yes, but they’re paper thin on the Indian pace bowling front, with their bowlers being Sakariya, Harshit Rana & Vaibhav Arora. Zero experience overall.
This is where you feel, if they had gone for an 8-10 crore overseas seamer (like Coetzee or Joseph), they could still have landed someone like a Harshal Patel.
The other cheap buys KKR made were really good: KS Bharath - solving the Indian WK issue, Mujeeb - Narine back-up and Ramandeep - Indian all-rounder.
The franchise could potentially have opted for a better overseas back-up batter than Sherfane Rutherford, who has struggled to cut it at the highest level. Phil Salt and Josh Inglis, both of whom went unsold, would have been far better options, not least due to their flexibility.
KKR likely XI: Jason Roy, KS Bharat (wk), Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer (capt), Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Mitchell Starc, Varun Chakravarthy, Harshit Rana (Impact Player: Suyash Sharma)
Auction verdict: Average
Punjab Kings generally enter the auction exactly knowing which players to buy (usually the shiny new toy in the market), but this time around, it felt like the Kings had no clear plan barring the Harshal Patel purchase.
In truth, PBKS did not need a lot of players, having surprisingly retained a load of individuals, but entered the auction wanting a few specific profiles: an express pacer (Indian or otherwise), a hard-hitting Indian middle-order batter (Shahrukh Khan replacement) and a strong, left-handed top-order batter (Bhanuka Rajapaksa upgrade).
Right at the very end, PBKS got the perfect Rajapaksa upgrade in Rilee Rossouw. He and Head were the two best available options in the market and the Kings landed the South African, who will solve a lot of problems for them on the batting front, not least smashing spin in the middle-overs.
However, despite spending approx 16 crore on two seamers (combined), Punjab have not strengthened their bowling unit. While Harshal’s style of bowling might not be the best fit for a venue like Mohali, Chris Woakes is a signing that’s baffling, especially at 4.20 crore, due to his well-established struggles in the subcontinent. Needless to say, Woakes is also someone whose best days are past him.
Getting a Tyagi or Spencer Johnson / Nandre Burger would have added some much needed raw-pace to this attack but, as it stands, Punjab’s bowling looks pretty one-dimensional from a speed perspective. That could cost them big time at a venue like Mohali.
PBKS likely XI: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Rilee Rossouw, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma, Sam Curran, Harpreet Brar, Harshal Patel, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh (Impact Player: Vidwath Kaverappa)
Auction Verdict: Below-Average
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