There was a real danger that the IPL auctions would slip by unnoticed, hidden from view by the World Cup. But thanks to Indian sentiment, the presence of Yuvraj Singh, and a room with a high pocket money average, there was enough for everyone to obsess about.For the second year in a row, Yuvraj Singh (Rs. 16 cr.) and Dinesh Karthik (Rs. 10.5 cr.) have retained their spots as the highest paid players. But like every auction, it’s the business done besides the big bucks that was extremely impressive. This list of deals provides - at first glance - great value for money and feature players who offer far beyond what they will be paid:
#1 Murali Vijay to KXIP (Rs. 3 crore)
Its arguable that Rs. 3 crore isnt a small amount of money. What isnt arguable, however, is Murali Vijays wondrous form. If there ever was a transformation for India over the last few years, Vijay has embodied it. From a scrappy, impatient player to someone who can be counted upon to provide a good start all the time, it has been quite the story.
This deal is up there with the best of yesterday. Punjab only had one visible issue last year till Manan Vohra came along, and that was Sehwags opening partner. In Vijay, they have filled the spot that most needed filling and its no flimsy layer of putty. Count on the 30-year-old right-hander to be up among thetop 10 run-getters this season.
#2 Juan \'Rusty\' Theron to RR (Rs. 30 lakh)
Rusty Theron’s speciality as a limited-overs bowler had been spoken about at length, but he was never quite the same player when he stepped into the IPL.
It has been a couple of years since his participation in the league, but Theron might finally find his calling in this tournament. At 29 years of age, Theron seems to have peaked and is having a good run of performances of late. At Rajasthan Royals, there’s an opportunity for him to turn into a spearhead. At his price, it will be a characteristic Royals heist if he can deliver.
#3 James Neesham to KKR (Rs. 50 lakh)
James Neesham was among the most expensive players last season, but he might also have been the one under most pressure. Of course, he was out injured for a long time, but his first stint in the IPL wasn’t too much to speak of. And that could be the reason he was priced as low as he was, coupled with the fact that he just about missed out on a World Cup spot.
It was unfortunate because Neesham, like Corey Anderson, is comparable to someone like Jacob Oram. He is just as destructive, just as left-handed, and just as utilitarian. With his medium-pace, he could be a handful at home for KKR as well. Smart buy from the champions.
#4 Kevin Pietersen to SRH (Rs. 2 crore)
If there is an award for the best buyer at the end of this season, the Sunrisers should get it regardless of where they finish.
There have been anomalies in the IPL auctions, and this certainly will be one to remember. On a day where unknown spinners went for plenty and national team discards raked in big money, the Hyderabad franchise managed to snap Kevin Pietersen up at his base price.
It’s hard to understand why no one else went for Pietersen, but if it has anything to do with the amount of international cricket – or lack, thereof – they could be left embarrassed soon. Pietersen can win at least three out of 10 games singlehandedly for any team he is in.
The Sunrisers can count on their ‘freelance cricketer’ to provide them just that and to play at least 10 matches for them too, thanks to their building of a team that can sustain itself on a fully domestic bowling line-up. On the business front too, there is a great commercial value in this deal.
#5 Kane Williamson to SRH (Rs. 60 lakh)
If you asked most teams in the world who they would like at No. 3, Virat Kohli wouldn’t be too far ahead of Kane Williamson.
It might be down to the fact that Williamson’s batting is built on a solid technique that he didn’t attract higher offers. The Sunrisers, again, must be given plenty of credit for picking a valuable player as opposed to a marketable one. Of course, anyone who says Williamson isn’t a big name at the moment would only be kidding themselves; his USP(s) are reliability and adaptability, and he is too good a player not to play a major role for Hyderabad this year.
If anything, this could be the deal that shows auctions in the future that stereotypical roles no longer apply to modern cricketers. Williamson isn’t anymore a ‘Test player’ as Warner is a limited-overs specialist. And he will give us evidence of that.