Ishan Kishan and Deepak Chahar clinched the most eye-popping deals as India’s battle-hardened T20 exponents laughed their way to the bank on the opening day of the IPL mega-auction where the franchises saved their highest bids for home-grown talent.
Kishan's Rs 15.25 crore winning bid from Mumbai Indians pipped the Rs 14 crore figure that CSK offered to retain Deepak Chahar on Saturday. Franchises showed prudence in overall spending but didn't hesitate to loosen the purse strings for proven performers, especially Indians.
In terms of US Dollars, there were 19 million-plus buys, the biggest by far at any IPL auction with most of the beneficiaries being Indian T20 specialists.
It was a satisfying ‘Pay Day’ for all current India internationals with Shreyas Iyer getting a staggering Rs 12.25 crore deal from Kolkata Knight Riders and the multi-skilled Shardul Thakur making Delhi Capitals break the bank with a Rs 10.75 crore.
These two, along with Kishan and Chahar, were the top four buys of the day. “I’m really excited to be back at MI. I know everyone has treated me there like a family so I am really happy to be there and I hope to give my best to the team. Thank you so much,” said the 23-year-old Kishan in a video posted on his Twitter handle.
The big-hitting Kishan made his India debut last year and has been a Mumbai Indians player all along, performing consistently well for the side. Young pacer Prasidh Krishna (Rs 10 crore) was paid big by Rajasthan Royals for his timely Man of the Series performance against the West Indies while Washington Sundar, another India regular, also got richer by Rs 8.75 crore.
Yuzvendra Chahal would be a bit cross as he came late in the day and could only get Rs 6.5 crore from Rajasthan Royals. Even a Nitish Rana, not an Indian regular but an IPL performer, was retained for Rs 8 crore by KKR while uncapped Rahul Tripathi, who has been consistent in the league, very deservingly also crossed the million-dollar mark at Rs 8.50 crore.
Shahrukh Khan, another formidable domestic T20 finisher but one with a base price of a mere Rs 20 lakh, was taken for a 'mic-drop' deal of Rs 9 crore by Punjab Kings. Rajasthan's former one-season wonder Rahul Tewatia was lapped up by Gujarat Titans for a mind-boggling Rs 9 crore.
It wasn’t an auction to remember for the old guard and only two 35 plus players -- Shikhar Dhawan (Rs 8.25 crore, Punjab Kings) and Ravichandran Ashwin (Rs 5 crore, Rajasthan Royals) -- got good deals.
Among other seniors Mohammed Shami was snapped by Gujarat Titans for Rs 6.25 crore. His new ball partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar got Rs 4.6 crore from Sunrisers. While this was the last mega auction, what was impressive was the discretion that franchises used while buying players as the focus was on top Indian players available in the market and currently playing white-ball cricket.
For Chennai Super Kings, the aim was to follow Mahendra Sigh Dhoni's template and retain their core base of players as much as possible as they waited to buy back Deepak, another multi-skilled cricketer on ascendancy for India.
KKR retained eight out of their top first 11 players from last season but are still looking short in the fast-bowling department. KKR also didn't do too badly as they picked up Australian Test captain Pat Cummins at Rs 7.25 crore, which is less than half of what he was paid at the last auction.
“To get back Pat Cummins at that price, we are very, very delighted. We thought he would go higher,” KKR CEO Venky Mysore said. “We could not be happier getting Cummins and Shreyas in the first round itself. Heart beats a bit more properly now, we can now have some fun looking at what else is going on,” he added.
While Cummins is a captaincy candidate, he will not be available during the first two weeks even though Mysore didn't want to commit on captaincy.