The IPL 2013 auction was supposed to be a relatively quiet one where settled franchises looked to fill in a couple of holes in their squads but, as is the case every year, it had plenty of surprises. Most of the biggest earners were players barely known outside their home countries, while marquee names like Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting attracted only one bid each.
Australia's Glenn Maxwell talked himself up as his side's X-factor at the World Twenty20 last year, and though he flopped there, Mumbai Indians splurged a million dollars for his services. "He is an upcoming youngster," Nita Ambani, owner of the Mumbai Indians, said. "He can bat, bowl and I think he is a great fielder. We had thought of some names before we came here and he was one of them."
Australia have a wealth of young fast bowlers but few would have bet that the one getting the largest paycheque would be 21-year-old South Australian Kane Richardson, who was bought by Pune Warriors for $700,000.
Another player with only one international cap, South Africa allrounder Chris Morris, was picked up by Chennai Super Kings for $625,000. Kolkata Knight Riders spent a similar amount on Sri Lanka offspinner Sachithra Senanayake, who has struggled to make the national side but hit the jackpot on a day when the country's premier slow bowler, Rangana Herath, went unsold. Another Sri Lanka spinner, Ajantha Mendis, who wasn't picked up at the auction last year, was back in favour among the franchises, earning $725,000 from Warriors.
Among the Indians, as expected, Mumbai allrounder Abhishek Nayar was the most expensive signing, sold for $675,000 to Pune. There were surprises as well, as Saurashtra's fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat, who got only one game last season for Knight Riders, earned $525,000 from Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab's fast bowler Manpreet Gony, who has disappointed since the inaugural IPL in 2008, earned $500,000 from Kings XI Punjab.
How Ravi Bopara didn't get picked up in the IPL auction is beyond me! Bowls/bats/fields & a top team man! Maybe he will get in somehow...— Kevin Pietersen (@kevinpp24) February 3, 2013
Some of the franchises had clear-cut strategies. Super Kings were out to bolster their bowling, and picked up five bowlers including Morris, the experienced Australia quick Dirk Nannes ($600,000) and Sri Lanka's teenaged offspinner Akila Dananjaya. Royal Challengers also wanted to spruce up their fast bowling, signing four quicks including West Indies' Ravi Rampaul and RP Singh, who has had plenty of success in the IPL, and Australia allrounders Moises Henriques and Daniel Christian.
One of the major weaknesses in Delhi Daredevils' squad had been a shortage of quality spinners, which they have tried to rectify by bringing on board South Africa's Johan Botha and Sri Lanka's Jeevan Mendis. Last year's winners Knight Riders were mostly satisfied with their squad and were among the least active franchises at the auction, only buying two players. Kings XI Punjab, who haven't had much success in the past couple of years, also bid for and bought only two players.
Several players who were expected to be sold weren't bought, including Australia's big-hitting batsman, Aaron Finch, who has earlier been part of Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals, New Zealand opener Martin Guptill, who hit a T20 century against South Africa little more than a month ago, and South Africa's Vernon Philander, who has had a spectacular year in Test cricket.
In all, 37 players were sold on the day and $11.9m was spent. While most franchises used up substantial portions of their US$12.5m salary cap, three of them - Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI and Royals - used only around half their purse. Royals have the leanest squad, with only 21 members, while Warriors reached the maximum of 33 players.