'It's a blow to my chest' - Badrinath
S Badrinath, the Tamil Nadu and India batsman, has made public his disappointment at not being bought by a franchise at the IPL player auction. Badrinath, who went unsold on the first day of the auction, was brought back for bidding again on Thursday as part of the unsold lot, but for the second time none of the eight franchises, including his previous owner Chennai Super Kings, showed any interest in the middle-order batsman.
"I am 100% disappointed. It's a blow to my chest. I really don't know how to react," Badrinath told The Hindu. "I was optimistic about being picked up at least the second time because initially teams generally have different options and go for them."
Badrinath, 33, played for Super Kings in the last six seasons of the IPL, scoring 1441 runs at an average of 30.65 and a strike rate of 118.89. However, in the last two years, Badrinath came lower down the batting order and that had an impact on his numbers. Last year, his average dipped to 17 and he had a strike rate of 102.47 in eight innings.
"I have played 90-odd games for CSK and I have a good record in the IPL," Badrinath said. "I am not blaming CSK because they might have had something else in mind. I was disappointed because I didn't receive a single bid from any franchise."
Some of the franchises have empathised with Badrinath's situation. Rajasthan Royals' chief executive, Raghu Iyer, said he was surprised none of the franchises had picked the batsman.
"Badri is a class act. He is one of the most consistent players in the IPL," Iyer said. "In our scheme of things, he did not fit in for the position he bats at. We had a different plan as far as Indian batsmen go and hence we did not go for him. I am also surprised nobody picked him up."
Venky Mysore, Kolkata Knight Riders CEO, agreed with Iyer: "Badri is a team man. A very solid cricketer. But in Chennai, he had a very specific role - he was a floater. That does not fit into every team's strategy."
According to a Super Kings insider, it was difficult to accommodate Badrinath in the middle order since the team had a lot of allrounders, which had increased its batting depth.
One of the franchise coaches pointed out Badrinath's style of batting did not suit every team's needs. "He is not an impact player. He does not force an opponent to change his plans, at least in this format. He might have played some influential knocks but there were times when Chennai were in trouble early and needed him to re-build the innings and he was not convincing," the coach said.
What may also have worked against Badrinath was that by the time he was brought into the auction a second time, most teams, including Super Kings, had virtually exhausted their purse. Ironically for Badrinath, Super Kings bought Delhi batsman Mithun Manhas, another seasoned domestic player, for a bargain price of Rs 35 lakhs. The coach pointed out the senior players like Badrinath and Praveen Kumar (Rs 2 crores, approx $330,000) suffered for keeping their base prices high.
"A guy like L Balaji, who was a bigger impact player than Badrinath last season, put his base price at Rs 50 lakhs ($83,000)," the coach said. "He was bought for Rs 1.8 crores ($300,000)."
Badrinath denied that his base price of Rs 1 crore ($166,000) was too high.
"I don't think it's a factor," Badrinath said. "I had based it on my experience, my contribution and records."
However Iyer pointed out the base price could have been a factor in addition to the fact that many franchises were keen on buying uncapped Indian players for a lesser price, especially during the second half on Thursday.
"Badri at Rs 1 crore is fine. But if a guy is desperate and definitely wants to play, then he should put his base price low," Iyer said. "Then, if you are really good enough, franchises will pay big money."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo