IPL auction 2014 February 12, 2014

Sehwag's close call, Yuvraj's bonus

Notes from the first day of the IPL auction in Bangalore

The silence
IPL auctions sometimes present difficult moments for aging Indian stars. After years of being the most lauded players in the game, they are at the mercy of the whims and calculations of the IPL franchise owners. Sourav Ganguly famously went unsold in 2011, and over an increasing tense minute it seemed Virender Sehwag would face a similar fate today. Even as the auctioneer Richard Madley repeatedly asked whether there were any bids, the franchises remained silent. Just as he was about to bring the hammer down and move on to the next player, Kings XI Punjab raised their paddle and Sehwag was saved the ignominy of being unsold.

The bonus
Yuvraj Singh's services were hotly contested for and his price rapidly went up to INR 10crore ($1.6million), a level reached only by one other player's salary on the day. The hammer came down, and Royal Challengers Bangalore thought they had added to a blockbuster batting line-up which already featured Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. Kolkata Knight Riders, though, insisted they had put in a higher bid before the auctioneer pronounced Yuvraj an RCB player. After a bit of haggling, Madley allowed further bidding. In about 30 seconds, Yuvraj's price went up by four more crores - as much as Rajasthan Royals paid for their most expensive player on the day.

The wake-up
Overall, this was a fairly dull auction, with few of the what-were-they-thinking moments that spiced up previous editions. Even as early as the start of the post-lunch session, a vast number of players were going unsold. A series of overseas wicketkeepers didn't interest any franchise, and when Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor's name came up, it was expected the trend would continue. However, Sunrisers Hyderabad put in a bid, and Madley was surprised enough to exclaim, "that made my afternoon". And when Taylor was bought, Madley enthusiastically said, "Sold", before adding, "I like saying that".

Ignored - 1
It wasn't a good day for Sri Lankans at the auction. With a tour of England and Ireland restricting their availability for the IPL season to less than three weeks, almost all Sri Lankan players went unsold. Mahela Jayawardene had a $1.5m contract last season but didn't attract any bids today; neither did Angelo Mathews who hit the jackpot with $950,000 in 2011. Even renowned Twenty20 players like Tillakaratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis were ignored. The only player to buck the trend was allrounder Thisara Perera, who scored a INR 1.6 crore ($266,000) contract with Kings XI Punjab.

Ignored - 2
Given the paucity of quality Indian fast bowlers, even mediocre performers had been virtually guaranteed hefty paydays. This time, though, the likes of Munaf Patel (who only made the Mumbai Indians XI four times last season), Manpreet Gony (who leaked 9.14 runs an over in 2013) and Abhimanyu Mithun (whose IPL economy rate is 9.83) went unsold. It was another sign that franchises are no more willing to indiscriminately splash the cash.

The question
Delhi Daredevils had thought they had got Australia fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile for INR 2.2crores ($366,000) but Rajasthan Royals insisted they had placed a higher bid. Neither Madley nor his associates had spotted Royals' raised paddle, so Madley asked Royals' team mentor Rahul Dravid: "I've got to completely trust you because I didn't see it, do you feel you bid before the hammer went down?" Not often that Dravid, for years an exemplar of the gentleman cricketer, is questioned like this. He insisted he had bid in time, and the subsequent bidding made Coulter-Nile richer by more than 2crores more.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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