Railways legspinner Karn Sharma and Himachal Pradesh allrounder Rishi Dhawan became the two most expensive uncapped players on the second day of the IPL player auction. Karn, who played for Sunrisers Hyderabad last season, was bought back for a startling Rs 3.75 crores (US $625,000) while Dhawan went to Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3 crores ($500,000). It's been a good few months for Karn as this payday comes on the back of his being named the under-25 Indian player of the year for 2012-13.
A total of 84 players were bought by franchises today making it an aggregate of 154 across the two-day auction. Today, franchises spent Rs 50.25 crores ($8.38 million) taking the total spend to Rs 262.6 crores ($43.8 million).
The second day of the auction saw most franchises contest fiercely for the lesser-known Indian domestic players to build their squads after they had bought the core of the team on Monday. Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav (Delhi Daredevils, Rs 2 crores), South Africa fast bowler and top wicket-taker in this season's Ram Slam T20 Beuran Hendricks ( Kings XI Punjab, Rs 1.8 crores) Delhi allrounder Rajat Bhatia (Royals, 1.7 crores), Karnataka opening batsman Mayank Agarwal (Daredevils, 1.6 crores), MP and India fast bowler Ishwar Pandey (Chennai Super Kings, 1.5 cores), Punjab batsman Gurkeerat Singh (Kings XI, 1.3 crores), Gujarat fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians, 1.2 crores), Mumbai seamer Dhawal Kulkarni (Royals, 1.1 crores) and Karnataka opener KL Rahul (1 crore, Sunrisers Hyderabad) were the biggest earners in the morning.
This is was the first time uncapped players were brought into the auction - a move welcomed by all franchises who said it provided a level-playing field for everyone in the wake of the controversies in the past seasons when teams would lure players with under-the-table deals and offers.
Karn was the last name to come out of the first set of uncapped spinners. Last year he had picked 11 wickets at an economy rate of 6.60 and had listed his base price Rs 30 lakh. Super Kings and Daredevils were the first in queue but the latter opted out once the bid reached Rs 70 lakh. Super Kings followed suit after Kings XI entered the bidding at Rs 75 lakhs. Sunrisers then joined the bidding and raised it to 1 crore which was doubled in less than a minute as both franchises refused to budge. Despite having assembled a good squad, Kings XI did not have any spinners in their line-up at the time and were desperate.
Sunrisers wanted Karn back at any cost as they raised the bid to 3 crores. Kings XI made that 3.5 crores, which ended up as their last offering. A visibly satisfied Sunrises table heaved a sigh as they had Sharma for Rs 3.75 crores.
It was the second-most eventful bid of the morning after Dhawan's. He nearly went unsold as the auctioneer received no bids before a late entry by Sunrisers. Mumbai, for whom he has played for before, took the bid to Rs 40 lakh before they quit. Daredevils jumped in but quit at Rs 70 lakh. It was now time for Kings XI's entry. The bidding crossed the crore-mark before Sunrisers decided to quit.
If Kings XI appeared happy and convinced they had Dhawan, the most successful bowler this Ranji season with 49 wickets, they were in for a surprise as Rahul Dravid, Royals' coach, raised the paddle when the bid was at Rs 1.2 cores. As it crossed the 2-crore mark , both teams started to negotiate before deciding to raise the bid. Finally Dravid signaled Royals were out once Kings XI had raised the bid to Rs 3 crores.
There were two overseas players also sold this morning. Dutchman Ryan ten Doeschate, was bought back by his former IPL employer Kolkata Knight Riders for the base price of Rs 1 crore and West Indies allrounder Kevon Cooper went back to the Royals for a base price of Rs 30 lakh.
A big difference between the two days of the auction was generally more teams participated in each bid, unlike Wednesday, when bidding wars saw just two teams fighting it out. But that was expected considering today it was all about stacking up the squads and getting the right kind of uncapped players. Hence, there were a lot of occasions especially in the first session where at times three, sometimes even four, franchises bid for the same player. Gurkeerat, Jadhav, Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul were some of the players that owners were keen to get on their rosters at any cost.
Another key facet was that the domestic performers were rewarded. Jadhav was the run-maker this Ranji Trophy. Rahul was No. 3 on the same list. Karun Nair, instrumental in Karnataka emerging as Ranji champions, was bought by Royals. Mumbai bid strongly for Gujarat fast bowler Bumrah and got him.
Insiders had indicated that the right-to-match card option available to them would be utilised to buy back the Indian domestic players and it proved true: Daredevils flashed the card twice to get Jadhav and Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, Kings XI co-owner Preity Zinta raised the card to retain Mandeep, Royals got the 41-year-old legspinner Pravin Tambe for his base price of Rs 10 lakh and Royal Challengers exercised their card to retain Haryana seamer Harshal Patel.
Players who remained unsold on Wednesday were brought back into the auction once again after lunch today. Some of the major benefactors of that move were New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor, who was bought for his base price of Rs 2 crores by Daredevils, one of his previous franchises. Former Indian left-arm-spinner Murali Kartik, a feisty player, was picked up by Kings XI for his base price of Rs 2 crore.
Madhya Pradesh wicketkeeper batsman Naman Ojha, who represented Daredevils in the previous IPL seasons, was bought by Sunrisers for his base price of Rs 50 lakhs. Australia's Chris Lynn was contested by Royals and Knight Riders, who eventually bagged him for Rs 1.3 cores. Knight Riders also grabbed West Indies allrounder Andre Russell, who previously was at Daredevils, for Rs 60 lakhs.
A departure from the past auctions was franchises cutting down on the expenditure on overseas players this time; none of the eight franchises touched the cap of nine overseas players imposed by the IPL. Instead, they focused on players who could fill up a certain position. But it was evident that the franchise scouts had kept an eye on overseas Twenty20 tournaments: best examples of that being the Cobras' left-arm fast bowler Hendricks who was the highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded Ram Slam T20. Queenslander Ben Dunk, who was part of Hobart Hurricanes that won the Big Bash League and the tournament's best player, was picked by Mumbai in late bidding for just 20 lakhs. Jamaican left-arm fast bowler Krishmar Santokie, who was Caribbean Premier League's highest wicket-taker (representing Guyana Amazon Warriors), also went to Mumbai at his base price of 30 lakhs.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo