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Feature

Questions from IPL auction: How did Warner go for such a low price? Why did Mumbai splurge on an injured Archer?

Also, why did Chahar, Hasaranga and Hetmyer attract such big money?

Dustin Silgardo
14-Feb-2022
Why did Wanindu Hasaranga go for so much?
Hasaranga fills two crucial roles teams look for. He can function as a wristspinner with variations, and also be used as an allrounder who can strike at 130-plus from No. 6 or No. 7. Hasaranga has established himself as one of the best googly bowlers in the world - his T20I strike rate is 12.9 and his economy rate is 6.32. And spinners with variations have traditionally done well in the IPL.
But why did Hasaranga get a higher price than experienced spinners such as Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin? This is where his second skill comes in. Hasaranga can bat in the middle order and score fast - his T20 strike rate is 136.63. That kind of player was in short supply in the auction. Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja had all been retained, but that still left four teams - Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings - desperate to find explosive allrounders. No surprise that three of those teams were battling for Hasaranga. Another point to remember is that his name came up before many of the big-hitting allrounders who were sold on day two. Also, he was the only one of those allrounders who bowls wristspin.
There have been questions as to why the Royal Challengers pursued Hasaranga despite having him in their squad last season and only giving him two games. But remember, last season the Royal Challengers had Chahal filling the wristspinner's spot. This season, by having a wicket-taking wristspinner who can bat in the top seven, they have more options in terms of team combination - they could play four seamers after Hasaranga, with Glenn Maxwell as the second spinner, or make the batting deep with Shahbaz Ahmed as another spin-bowling allrounder at No.8.
Why did David Warner and Quinton de Kock go for less than INR 7 crore (USD 926,000 approx)?
Three reasons:
  • Overseas batters have been among the cheaper buys because the supply is more.
  • Every team had at least one opener pre-auction.
  • A lot of teams were waiting for Ishan Kishan's name to come up.
Warner and de Kock would probably both have been better off not being in the marquee set. Clearly, many teams had their eyes on Kishan as a keeper-batter. Once Kishan was sold, the very next keeper, Nicholas Pooran, went for INR 10.75 crore (USD 1.4 million) to the Sunrisers. de Kock could have fetched a similar price had he come up after Kishan.
Another factor was that of the 31 players picked pre-auction, 11 were potential openers. Every team had at least one player who could open, so those slots were not as much of a priority early in the auction.
In recent auctions, overseas top-order batters have been among the less expensive buys. Think of it this way, if you consider six of the top-eight-ranked international teams (minus India and Pakistan) as your supply pool, each team has around four top-order batters, so the total supply is about 24 international-quality batters. But each team has a maximum of two allrounders, finishers or express pacers, so there your supply is half. It could make sense to spend on those other categories and try to pick up an inexpensive top-order player.
For example, Chennai Super Kings, who were in for Warner but pulled out early, ended up getting Devon Conway for just INR 1 crore (USD 132,000), and he is still an international-level player. The auction also had a lot of Indian top-order options, so teams wanted to save their overseas slots for other areas.
Of course, Warner is a special top-order player and a three-time winner of the orange cap, so if he hits top form, he could end up being the steal of the auction.
Why did Shimron Hetmyer spark such a bidding war?
Again, this is a function of supply and demand. Teams wanted to fill the No. 5 slot in their team with a finisher - someone who can come in and strike quickly from the off, a totally different skill from building an innings from the top. Every team wants to find their own Pollard, Russell or Pandya, but there aren't too many of those kinds of players around. While the ideal pick is an allrounder who can also be a finisher, teams were willing to pay big bucks even for batters or batting allrounders who can play this specific role.
Hetmyer has a strike rate of 150.00 from No. 5 or lower. In 23 IPL innings from No. 5 or lower, he has struck at 160.26. Shahrukh Khan, another finisher, also went for big money, as did Tim David and Liam Livingstone, though he is seen as an allrounder.
Hetmyer also benefited from being in the first pool of capped batters, as a lot of the options for this role were only going to come much later on in the auction, so some teams wanted a finisher early so they didn't have to scramble for one with a diminished purse. Delhi Capitals, the other team bidding for Hetmyer, never ended up finding a proven No. 5 and will have to use Mandeep Singh or Rovman Powell in the role, or push Rishabh Pant down the order.
Why didn't Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin get bigger bids?
Ashwin and Chahal are both among the 10 highest wicket-takers in the IPL, and it isn't like their form has dipped. No spinner took more wickets than Chahal's 18 last season, while Ashwin's economy-rate of 7.41 was excellent. So why did Chahal get just INR 6.50 crore (USD 860,000) and Ashwin INR 5 crore (USD 661,000)?
It seems that teams came into the auction with the idea that any spinners they picked needed to be allrounders who could bat at No.7 or higher. The reason for this was that there were a lot of spin-bowling allrounders to pick from but few seam-bowling allrounders who could bat in the top seven. So a lot of teams had set up to have multiple spin-bowling options in their top seven and a maximum of one spinner occupying the bowlers' positions.
If you include pre-auction buys, 15 spin-bowling allrounders went for INR 2 crore or more, with nine earning upwards of INR 8 crore. In contrast, just seven specialist spinners earned INR 2 crore (USD 264,000) or more, and that's including Rashid Khan, who could, at a push, bat in the top seven.
How did Deepak Chahar become the second-most-expensive buy in the auction?
Seamers are always in demand in auctions - you need five or six quality seamers in your squad to allow for injuries, loss of form and confidence. But one specific kind of seamer in great demand at this auction was someone that could bat at No. 8 and provide depth, which is becoming more and more valued in T20 cricket. Having someone who can finish games from No. 8 not only adds insurance but can change the way your top and middle order bat, allowing them to be more aggressive. There are not a lot of frontline seamers going around who can also strike at 130 with the bat, and so those players went at a premium.
The reason Chahar went for even more than the rest of the seamers who can hit a ball long, is that he is one of the best powerplay bowlers in the IPL and tends to win a handful of games every season just with his early wickets.
Why did Mumbai Indians go hard for an injured Jofra Archer?
Archer is unlikely to feature at all in the 2022 season, so why would teams want him in this auction? Why not simply wait for the next auction? By taking a gamble this season, Mumbai have actually ended up paying a lot less for Archer than they otherwise might have. A fully fit Archer in an auction could have earned massive bids. But by picking him up late in this auction, when other teams had used up most of their purses, Mumbai have actually got Archer at a bargain - remember, if he doesn't play this season, Mumbai don't need to pay him - and now have a formidable pace attack for 2023. They may also have been thinking of the 26-year-old Archer as someone they can retain at the end of this three-year cycle. The trade-off, of course, is that their first XI for this season is not as strong.
The big question, which only Archer can answer, is why he decided to enter this auction. If he had entered the mini-auction next year, he probably would have fetched a lot more money. We will have to wait for him to answer that.
Why did Kolkata Knight Riders pick Ajinkya Rahane?
In four of his past five seasons, Rahane has struck at less than 120, and he was given just two games by the Capitals in 2021. But the Knight Riders wanted a steady opener to complement the aggressive Venkatesh Iyer. Their outgoing opener, Shubman Gill, also struck at less than 120 in his past two seasons but was consistent. Also, the experience and leadership of Rahane can be an asset in the dressing-room and training ground.
1 USD = INR 75 (approx)

Dustin Silgardo is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo