The IPL 2021 Auction is over. As usual, the extravaganza grabbed eyeballs for the mind-boggling sums paid during it by franchisees for some of the stars. The latest edition of the auction saw Chris Morris become the most expensive player in the league’s history with Rajasthan Royals paying ₹16.25 crore for the South African all-rounder.
Meanwhile, Krishnappa Gowtham became the most expensive Indian player at the IPL 2021 Auction, while also becoming the costliest uncapped buy ever. Players like Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson and Kyle Jamieson fetched big sums too.
Often, the tournament has been won through moneyball buys. In simple terms, players picked up at a bargain can help teams have an X-factor in their sides, catapulting them to IPL glory.
In total, ₹145.3 crore was spent on players during the IPL 2021 Auction. However, the following 5 players were bought by the franchises at an absolute steal and they could well be value-for-money buys this season.
#5 Umesh Yadav to DC for ₹1 crore
At ₹1 crore, Umesh Yadav is a solid acquisition for Delhi Capitals ahead of IPL 2021. Quality Indian pacers were at a premium during the IPL 2021 Auction, and last year’s finalists have done well to get him at his base price.
The Delhi Capitals have thus added an Indian international to their side who could act as a back-up to Ishant Sharma. It comes at a time when other pace options like Jamieson and Richardson cost upwards of 10 crore this IPL 2021 auction.
With Rabada and Nortje in their ranks, the Delhi Capitals likely will field just one Indian pacer in IPL 2021. But Ishant Sharma has a history of struggling with injuries and Umesh Yadav is an able deputy. The fact that Umesh Yadav, just like Ishant Sharma, is most effective up top during the power play overs is a bonus.
Just a couple of years ago, Umesh Yadav was ripping through the top order, picking up 20 wickets at an economy of 7.86 in IPL 2018. Paying 1 crore for that experience, which can’t be replicated by any foreign buy, is a value-for-money IPL deal.
#4 Mohammed Azharuddeen to RCB for ₹20 lakh
After smashing 137 off 54 balls in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021, many expected Kerala’s Mohammed Azharuddeen to be the darling of the IPL 2021 Auction. That wasn’t the case, as only Royal Challengers Bangalore bid for him.
The 26-year-old cost RCB just Rs 20 lakh, which makes him a solid purchase ahead of IPL 2021. RCB were looking for an Indian wicket-keeper to replace Parthiv Patel and they have got Mohammed Azharuddeen for base price.
While it is unclear how much action Azharuddeen will get, his price makes him an attractive pick. ₹20 lakh for an Indian wicket-keeper who is explosive with the bat is surely a good buy even when uncapped players attracted huge sums in the IPL 2021 auction. The buy also gives Virat Kohli the flexibility to play both Glenn Maxwell and Daniel Christian, as Azharuddeen can keep wickets if Josh Philippe isn’t part of the side.
Coming off the back of an impressive Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he scored 214 runs at a strike rate of 194.54, Mohammed Azharuddeen is more than capable of being RCB’s opener if needed this IPL.
#3 Steve Smith to DC for ₹2.2 crore
Steve Smith's move to Delhi Capitals surprised many. Many couldn’t fathom why no one else got into a bidding war for one of the world’s best batsmen. Delhi Capitals assistant coach Mohammed Kaif thanked his luck after buying Steve Smith for just Rs 2.2 crores at the IPL 2021 Auction.
"I thought we were lucky to have him so cheap. We were willing to pay even more for him,"
While getting Steve Smith for a big sum wouldn’t have made much sense, getting him for just Rs 2.2 crores is a shrewd pick. His arrival gives the Delhi Capitals an alternative to Shimron Hetmyer, who has blown a bit hot and cold in the IPL.
Steve Smith at the top can be the perfect anchor for Delhi Capitals. With players like Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis around him, Steve Smith can quietly go about his business without having to worry too much about his strike rate.
At 2.2 crores, the Delhi Capitals wouldn’t be too concerned if their punt doesn’t work out. But if he can perform as Michael Hussey did for Chennai Super Kings in their victorious 2011 campaign, that amount will look like peanuts.
#2 Shakib Al Hasan to KKR for ₹3.2 crore
Although Shakib Al Hasan has not played much cricket since returning from his ban, those few games were enough to prove he still has it.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s best all-rounders, KKR have done well to get the former Bangladesh captain for that amount. Sunil Narine hasn’t been at his best, and Shakib Al Hasan gives them a great left-arm bowling option who can bat at the top of the order.
Shakib Al Hasan’s 3.20 crore deal seemed paltry when compared to what similar players like Moeen Ali (7 crore) and Glenn Maxwell (14.25 crore) went for. The Bangladesh cricketer has better bowling and batting averages in the competition than both of them and KKR have done well to get him at that price.
#1 Dawid Malan to PBKS for ₹1.5 crore
If getting the world’s No.1 T20 batsman for base price isn’t a steal, it's hard to argue what is. Dawid Malan has lit up the competition wherever he has gone in recent years.
In 19 T20s for England, he averages a stupendous 53.43. Dawid Malan scores them at a good click too, with an impressive strike rate of 149.57. Punjab Kings have the mighty Chris Gayle in their ranks and he is set to occupy that No.3 slot after last year’s heroics.
But in Dawid Malan, the Punjab Kings have bought a fail-safe player who could replace Nicholas Pooran or Dawid Malan should they get injured or run out of form in this IPL. It is difficult to replace Chris Gayle, but the Punjab Kings may have done just that for the long term for just Rs 1.5 crore.