IPL heavyweight Malinga goes unsold
Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga, arguably the highest-profile overseas batsman and bowler in seasons past, went unsold on day one of the IPL 2018 auction in Bengaluru. Gayle had set his base price at INR 2 crore (USD 312,500 approx) and Malinga at INR 1 crore (USD 156,000 approx), numbers that were breached several times in the sale of other players during the day. (Gayle was eventually bought on day two of the auction, though.)
England captain Joe Root, who has never been part of the IPL previously, also went unsold - there had been questions asked ahead of the auction on whether the England players would be bought at the auction, given their availability issues. Unsold players could be called back into the auction on day two, if requested by any franchise.
Another England player had no problems going for big bucks, though. Allrounder Ben Stokes was the biggest buy in the first round of bidding, going from a base price of INR 2 crore to INR 12.5 crore (USD 1.95m approx) to Rajasthan Royals - back from their two-year suspension for their role in the spot-fixing scandal of 2013. Questions remain over whether he will play in the IPL at all, though, as he faces charges of affray - if he is ruled out before the tournament begins, the IPL will allow Royals a replacement player.
Jofra Archer, the man from Barbados who is waiting to become eligible to play for England, attracted as much attention at the auction as he is doing on the field at the Big Bash League. Delhi Daredevils, Chennai Super Kings - also back from their suspension - Kings XI Punjab, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royals all bid for him, meaning his base price of INR 40 lakh ballooned 18 times to INR 7.2 crore (USD 1.13m approx) before he was secured by Royals. Archer has been "in the spotlight for his fiery pace and dead-eye fielding for Hobart Hurricanes down under.
India opener Shikhar Dhawan was the first player bought at the auction, by Sunrisers, his old franchise using a RTM to snap him up after extensive bidding. He was sold for INR 5.2 crore (USD 812,500 approx) after Kings XI Punjab offered the first bid of the morning with INR 2 crore. That set the tone for a frenetic day of bidding from Kings XI, whom bid more than any other franchise as well as missed on more players than any other franchise due to the others' RTMs. At one point during the day, Kings XI made the winning bid five times in a row.
Offspinner R Ashwin became the day's first million-dollar player, going for INR 7.6 crore (USD 1.1875 million approx) to Kings XI - Super Kings could not use a RTM on him given they had already retained three capped India players in MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja before the auction.
In all 16 RTMs were used on the day*, none more emphatically so than the one Mumbai used on left-arm spin-bowling allrounder Krunal Pandya. As expected, there was fierce and prolonged bidding for him, bumping up his base price a mind-boggling 22 times from INR 40 lakh to INR 8.8 crore. That winning bid was made by Royal Challengers Bangalore, but thwarted by Mumbai and their RTM. That meant Mumbai paid more for Krunal than they did for the third of their retained players, Jasprit Bumrah, whom they had kept on their roster for INR 7 crore before the auction.
For the first time in 11 seasons of the IPL, offspinner Harbhajan Singh will not be turning out for Mumbai; he went to CSK at his base price of INR 2 crore (USD 312,000 approx).
It was believed Daredevils and Kings XI would bid for Gautam Gambhir, in order to give themselves a solid captaincy option, and so it was. The two faced off before Daredevils picked him up for INR 2.8 crore (USD 437,000 approx).
KL Rahul became the most expensive India player of the day, going for INR 11 crore (USD 1.7m approx) to - yet again - Kings XI. His opening partner in Tests, M Vijay, did not get any bid at all.
Rahul was soon joined by his Karnataka team-mate Manish Pandey at the top of the Indian podium; Pandey became the joint-most-expensive Indian player as his base price of INR 1 crore swelled more than ten times, bought by Sunrisers for INR 11 crore (USD 1.7m approx).
The afternoon session began with a big surprise, with India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel going unsold. Sanju Samson was a surprise topper in the wicketkeepers bracket - and the fourth-most-expensive India player overall behind Rahul, Pandey and Krunal - going to Royals for INR 8 crore (USD 1.25m approx). RCB snapped up South Africa's Quinton de Kock for a relative steal: INR 2.8 crore (USD 437,000 approx).
Malinga aside, there were several high-profile fast bowlers who went unsold in the afternoon: Ishant Sharma, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Josh Hazlewood and Tim Southee.
The No. 1 ranked Twenty20 bowler in the world, New Zealand legspinner Ish Sodhi, went unsold. Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan more than doubled his 2017 price of INR 4 crore, getting offered INR 9 crore (USD 1.4m approx) from Kings XI only to be snapped up on a RTM by Sunrisers.
As expected, RCB used a RTM on legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal - the league's top-performing spinner in 2016 - taking him off Daredevils for INR 6 crore (USD 937,000 approx).
None of the eight players CSK bought on the day were below 30 years old.
*The article had erroneously said CSK bagged Kagiso Rabada; he was taken off CSK by Daredevils with a RTM card.