The PKL Auction 2021 took place in Mumbai. Over 190 players were signed as the teams filled their squads for the upcoming eighth edition of the competition, slated to take place in December.
The auction threw up some exciting moments with intense bidding wars and strategizing among the teams. The teams depicted interest in the budding youngsters, while many seasoned players were sold for a cheaper price than expected.
The 'Record-breaker' Pardeep Narwal featured in the auction pool for the first time in history, where he added another feather to his cap of records. Pardeep became the highest-paid player in the history of PKL. He was sold to the UP Yoddha for a whopping ₹1.65 crores.
While there were some smart buys at the auction, like Deepak Niwas Hooda (Jaipur Pink Panthers), Abozar Mighani (Bengal Warriors) and Rahul Chaudhari (Puneri Paltan), there were also a couple of surprising choices taken by the teams at the auction.
On that note, let's look at the three surprise picks at PKL Auction 2021:
3 surprising picks at PKL Auction 2021:
#3 Sombir Gulia - ₹34.50 lakh, Puneri Paltan
Following their inconsistent performances last season, Puneri Paltan was looking to reshape their entire defensive unit at PKL Auction 2021. They signed the Himachal Pradesh corner duo of Vishal Bhardwaj and Baldev Singh at a valuable price of ₹60 lakh each at the Category A auction.
However, the team made a surprising call on the third day of the auction, when Puneri Paltan engaged in a bidding war to sign Sombir Gulia at ₹34.50 lakh. Sombir, who was valued at ₹10 lakh in the Category C pool, found himself with a lucrative contract with the Pune-based franchise for PKL 8.
Puneri Paltan's strategy is understandable as they require a backup player for Baldev Singh in the right corner position. However, Sombir's price tag raised a few eyebrows as it is likely he won't get many opportunities to feature in the starting seven.
#2 Brijendra Singh Chaudhary - ₹55 lakh, Haryana Steelers
The Haryana Steelers made some surprising calls at PKL Auction 2021. After splurging on a whopping ₹83 lakh for Rohit Gulia, the team added another all-rounder to their ranks in Brijendra Singh Chaudhary. They spent ₹55 lakh to sign the Rajasthan-based all-rounder, who hasn't played a single game in the PKL.
Brijendra was part of the Jaipur Pink Panthers line-up back in PKL 6 but didn't get a single game to play that season. Although he's had brilliant outings in the past two editions of the Senior Nationals, his place in the starting seven seems to be doubtful for the Steelers.
With Vikash Kandola and Rohit Gulia set to lead the team's offense as a raiding duo, Vinay could likely become the do-or-die raider based on his excellent debut in PKL 7. With the raiding combination already set up beforehand, it was surprising to see the Haryana Steelers paying Brijendra Chaudhary such a fat paycheck at the PKL Auction 2021.
#1 Arjun Deshwal - ₹96 lakh, Jaipur Pink Panthers
Jaipur Pink Panthers made some steal buys. They used their FBM cards for Deepak Niwas Hooda (₹55 lakh) and Sandeep Dhuil (₹45 lakh) on the second day of PKL Auction 2021. However, the Abhishek Bachchan-based franchise went all out to sign the lanky raider Arjun Deshwal on the third day and surprisingly paid ₹96 lakh for him.
Arjun had a decent season earlier with U Mumba with 104 raid points and three Super-10s. The Services' raider was crucial for the side as U Mumba had managed to get to the semi-finals in PKL 7. However, nobody had expected Arjun to become the third most expensive player of PKL Auction 2021.
Arjun Deshwal is yet to showcase his true potential in PKL. However, the huge price tag could mean that he will be under the scanner this season. Although he has what it takes to succeed in the PKL, seeing him go for such a huge amount was definitely a surprise.