A day after the IPL auction, ESPNcricinfo staffers pitch a few knuckle balls on the franchises' strategies and purchases
Is Sam Curran worth a million dollars?
Does performing against India matter so much? We saw the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran perform well and garnered strong bids. But that was in the limited-overs format. What about Sam Curran? He will no doubt win the Test debutant of the year going on the back of his Man-of-the-Series performance in the home summer against India. But, it is not common for IPL franchises to pick players based on their red-ball performances. Has that trend changed now?
A left-arm fast bowler is always attractive in T20, but Curran bowls at lower speeds, is not part of England's limited-overs teams and has no creditable performances in the T20 Blast. Age, potential and temperament seem to have gone in Curran's favour. But will he do justice to his price tag at INR 7.2 crore?
Where's your middle order, Kings XI?
Kings XI Punjab had the biggest purse going into the auction. They spent all but 3.7 of the 35-plus crore purse to stack up the squad and despite that they seem a featherweight batting team.
David Miller isn't the Miller he was back in the day. Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal struggled in the last IPL and are likely to wrestle for the same spot again. KL Rahul was their talisman last season but his current form hasn't been great. So getting a back-up batsman, an experienced hand, would have been useful.
But Kings XI splurged on on mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy when they already had another mystery spinner in Mujeeb ur Rahman, who bowls in the Powerplay and the death. Not to mention their captain R Ashwin.
Why did Delhi spend INR 3.1 cr on Test specialists Vihari and Ishant?
Delhi Daredevils - now Delhi Capitals - have been known to try all kinds of strategies to add to their trophy-less cabinet. Under a different owner, with a new name, they bought the hard-hitting Colin Ingram, handy allrounder Axar Patel and the Caribbean duo of Sherfane Rutherford and Keemo Paul.
Parth Jindal, Delhi's co-owner, said one big reason Ishant was bought (at INR 1.1 crore) was because of his familiarity with Ferozshah Kotla, the home venue. Ishant remained unsold last auction till Kings XI got him as a replacement player. But he did not play a single match. Despite his experience, which has helped him lead the Indian Test bowling attack admirably, Ishant struggled to adapt to the demands of the IPL. He is not express, and, importantly does not have the variations to bowl at death.
As for Vihari, who made his Test debut in England this year, his strike-rate in T20s is a mere 111.12. He is a good batsman, as far as technique goes, but is not an aggressive one. Still officials at the Delhi table exchanged high fives after getting him for INR 2 crore. What does Vihari offer and where will he fit in Delhi's famed top order comprising Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant?
Why did no one pick Dale Steyn?
Some of the most expensive buys at the IPL auction were fast bowlers. Even before the auction franchise officials had indicated that fast bowlers, especially good ones, would command attention and money. Yet, one of the fastest bowlers, a modern-day great, went unsold?
Extreme pace, lethal swing and solid bowling IQ have made Dale Steyn a household name. But the South African failed to earn a single bid despite his name coming up three times. Why? Is it because Steyn has been hampered by various injuries over the past few years? Is it because the South African players are only available till April 25 and investing in Steyn for just one season is not worth it?
Why was Manoj Tiwary ignored?
India and Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary not fetching even a single bid (base price of INR 50 lakhs) was baffling. Playing for now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 IPL, he had scored 324 runs in 13 innings at an average of 32.40 and a strike rate of 137.28.
That performance should have fetched him a bigger role in the 2018 edition, but he was not picked in the XI for the first six games by his new franchise Kings XI Punjab, and didn't get to play more than two games at a stretch.
He got to bat four times in the five games he played, twice coming in at No. 6 and once at No. 7. In the only other innings, he scored a 30-ball 35 from No. 4 to end the tournament with 47 runs at a strike rate of 106.81.
However, he bounced back from that, scoring 438 runs at 43.80 with a strike rate of 79.63 in the domestic 50-overs cricket. Yet, Tiwary remained unsold despite his name coming up three times.
Wondering wat went wrong on my part after getting Man of a match award wen I scored a hundred 4 my country and got dropped for the next 14 games on a trot ?? Looking at d awards which I received during 2017 IPL season, wondering wat went wrong ??? pic.twitter.com/GNInUe0K3l— MANOJ TIWARY (@tiwarymanoj) December 18, 2018
Where are the young Indian fast bowlers?
It's been 12 years of auctions. Have franchises still not figured out how to measure T20 metrics right? What possible reason could they have for splurging on Mohit Sharma (INR 5 crore), Varun Aaron (INR 2.4 crore), Barinder Sran (INR 3.4 crore), Ishant and not going for a young fast bowler instead? This was the perfect auction to do it for several teams, especially those who had most of the squad largely in place.
One reason could be that the scouts look outside - at the Big Bash, the CPL, the PSL and the Mzansi league - for fast bowling talent. No Indians there. Looking at performances in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy had some value, but even that is no longer the case since the auctions are held before the domestic T20 tournament. The regional Indian leagues -- TNPL and KPL, for example -- are not of the same standard so one can't really form concrete opinions based on performances there.