The thrill-a-minute Indian Premier League (IPL) auction had its latest installment yesterday, and we saw many records being shattered over the course of the event.
Chris Morris became the most expensive player in the history of the IPL auction at INR 16.25 crores, while uncapped Indian talents like Krishnappa Gowtham and Shahrukh Khan fetched big bucks as well.
Glenn Maxwell went for another eye-boggling amount despite having his worst IPL campaign last year, and his countryman Jhye Richardson received a huge bid from the newly rebranded Punjab Kings.
We saw a number of surprising purchases during the IPL 2021 auction, and here are 3 that stood out from the rest.
#3 Riley Meredith (INR 8 crores to PBKS for IPL 2021)
Riley Meredith is one of the fastest bowlers in the world, and had a decent Big Bash League season for the Hobart Hurricanes in which he picked up 16 wickets in 13 games at an economy rate of 7.82.
Meredith was snapped up for a whopping INR 8 crores by the Punjab Kings, becoming the most expensive uncapped overseas player in IPL auction history in the process. The express quick doesn't have much experience at the top level, and fast bowlers who've done well in the Big Bash have historically struggled in the IPL.
Meredith, who is only 24 years old, will look to upset this trend and become a mainstay of the PBKS bowling attack alongside Mohammed Shami and countryman Jhye Richardson. He has all the necessary skills to succeed in the IPL, but seeing him go for such a big price was definitely a surprise.
#2 Tom Curran (INR 5.25 crores to DC for IPL 2021)
Tom Curran was bought for his base price of INR 1 crore last year by the Rajasthan Royals. And the pacer, who had one prior season of IPL experience with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2018, disappointed.
Curran scalped only 3 wickets in 5 games at a disastrous economy rate of 11.44 in IPL 2020. He struggled to hit the right lengths and his slower ball was far too easy to read, leaving Jofra Archer with no support in the RR pace attack. But one year on, the Englishman finds himself with a lucrative contract with the Delhi Capitals.
The Capitals' thinking is easy to understand, as they needed a backup for Marcus Stoinis after releasing Keemo Paul. But with proven T20 performers like James Neesham and Moises Henriques going for significantly cheaper amounts, Curran's price tag did raise a few eyebrows.
DC will take heart from Curran's exploits with the bat last year - 83 runs in 3 innings with 1 fifty. But the all-rounder is clearly nothing more than a backup option, especially with Chris Woakes set to turn out for the side in IPL 2021.
#1 Cheteshwar Pujara (INR 50 lakhs to CSK for IPL 2021)
Indian Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara last played in the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab in 2014. In 30 IPL games, he has scored 390 runs at an average of 20.52 and a strike rate of 99.74, with only 1 fifty to his name.
But the Chennai Super Kings placed their faith in Pujara, signing him for his base price and prompting a warm round of applause from all the teams participating in the IPL 2021 auction. With Indian top-order batsmen like N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina and Robin Uthappa part of the CSK roster, it's unlikely that Pujara gets a game.
CSK's decision to sign Pujara may have been an emotional one more than anything else - a mark of respect for one of the country's bravest warriors. Or maybe they really do believe in his T20 batting abilities, and want to give him a chance to prove himself as a multi-format cricketer.
Either way, the fact that a franchise decided to raise their paddle for Pujara came as a massive surprise.