Not many people would consider INR 2 crores (USD 308,000 approx) for two days' good work a worthwhile investment but in T20 franchise cricket, that apparently is "a bargain."
One of the more bizarre sights at the IPL auction was a man with 10,000 runs going unsold until he came up for the draw a third time. It seemed like a sign that the Chris Gayle brand had taken a hit. Similarly, Yuvraj Singh was dealt a pay cut of INR 5 crores (USD 772,000 approx) from his 2017 contract. There were indications that both players - aged 38 and 36 respectively - were on the wane but Kings XI Punjab will be happy if they can win them even a handful of games in the new season which begins on April 7.
The team's director Virender Sehwag gave his resounding support to both Gayle and Yuvraj on Tuesday, saying "It is great that they have come to us at their base price (INR 2 crore for both). It is surely a bargain. Who knows if there were more bidders, they could have gone as high as USD 1 million. They are big names and match winners, even if they win two-three games for us, we would get the return on investment."
Gayle is currently with the West Indies, assisting their efforts to qualify for the World Cup. Last Tuesday, he struck his 23rd ODI century, a boundary-laden effort against UAE. And in December last year, he pummeled 146 not out off 69 balls in the final of the Bangladesh Premier League and proclaimed himself as the best batsman in history.
Yuvraj has not played international cricket since June 2017, but he is eager to perform not only this season of the IPL but a couple more. He also has a deep connect with Kings XI, first being a Punjabi boy himself and second a former captain of the franchise. He now adds to a strong core of local talent.
"Last few years, our Indian players were not that good, except Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel," Sehwag said. "That was one gap. If you want to win the IPL, you have to have good Indian players. We have four to five of them this time. We were also struggling with Indian batting line-up, which could hold the innings together. Guys like [KL] Rahul, [Karun] Nair and Manoj Tiwary can hold the middle order. Then, we have explosive openers in Gayle and [Aaron] Finch, and down the order, we have David Miller. Hopefully, they will do well against spinners,"
Sehwag reiterated his support to R Ashwin, who will lead Kings XI in 2018, saying "I have always felt that a bowler-captain can win you more games. If 8,10 or 15 runs are needed in the final over, only a bowler can you win that game. The way a bowler-captain thinks, he can also help other bowlers on the field. That is why I am a great fan of Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, who all made great captains."