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Stats Analysis

WPL auction: Fight for Mandhana, demand for Australians, and focus on allrounders

The paddle was raised 28 times for Mandhana, while five players had four teams bidding for them

Mallika Sagar was the auctioneer at the inaugural Women's Premier League auction, Mumbai, February 13, 2023

A total of 87 players were bought for INR 59.5 crore at the auction  •  BCCI

It was the first WPL player auction, and there was a bit of learning for everyone concerned. At the end of it, what were the trends, what were the highlights of the team-building decisions the franchises took… here's a check.
Nearly INR 60 crore spent
There was a total of INR 60 crore (US$ 7.3 million approx.) available for the five franchises to buy a maximum of 90 players at the auction. The limit was nearly achieved as 87 players were bought, and INR 59.5 crore was spent. Seven players earned bids as high as INR 2 crore, and three breached the INR 3-crore mark - Smriti Mandhana (INR 3.4 crore), Ashleigh Gardner (INR 3.2 crore) and Nat Sciver-Brunt (INR 3.2 crore).
Only Mumbai Indians and UP Warriorz used their entire purse of INR 12 crore, but neither of them reached the maximum player limit of 18, buying 17 and 16 respectively. Gujarat Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore did reach the limit of 18 but had INR 5 lakh and INR 10 lakh left. Delhi Capitals, meanwhile, needed only INR 11.65 crore to fill their quota.
The two-horse race for Mandhana
Mandhana, the costliest player, was responsible for kick-starting the auction with a bang. The paddle was raised 28 times for her, all by two teams - Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers - the highest for any player.
Mandhana's auction price was 6.8 times her base price, the highest multiple among the 87 players sold. No player attracted bids from all five franchises, but five players had four teams making a bid for them - Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Beth Mooney, Marizanne Kapp and Tahlia McGrath.
Australians in big demand
The dominance shown by Australia at the international level in women's cricket translated into success for individuals at the WPL auction - 14 of the 30 available slots for overseas players were filled by them. INR 14.25 crore was spent for Australian players, nearly one-fourth of the total purse of five teams.
Fifty-seven Indians were bought in the auction for INR 32.2 crore, while England have the third-best representation, with seven of their players brought for a total of INR 7.35 crore. Tara Norris was the only player from an Associate nation to get a bid, from Capitals. Norris, the USA left-arm seamer, made her debut in international cricket only in 2022 but played more than 100 professional limited-overs matches in England between 2014 and 2022.
INR 54.25 crore was spent at this auction for 57 capped players, while INR 5.25 crore went on the 30 uncapped players. Only one uncapped overseas player earned a bid, Laura Harris of Australia, who was sold to Capitals for INR 45 lakh. She was also the second-most expensive uncapped player at this auction, behind Tanuja Kanwar, who went to Giants for INR 50 lakh.
A focus on allrounders
With only INR 12 crore available to each team, they focused on allrounders. As many as 46 players sold at the auction were categorised as allrounders, with all teams getting at least seven of them. INR 34.3 crore was spent on allrounders overall, including INR 9.6 crore for nine from Australia. Only 17 players sold at the auction were specialist bowlers, and the remaining 24 were either batters or wicketkeeper-batters.
Just six of the current top-ten bowlers in the ICC's women's T20I rankings found teams. Three of those six were allrounders, while Megan Schutt went unsold the first time. That count was eight for batters, which included three allrounders and a wicketkeeper-batter.
Delhi Capitals, the happy bidders
Capitals was the most active team at the auction table, making bids for 38 players. Nine of the 18 players they bought were at their base price. On 15 occasions, they finished second best. UP Warriorz won seven of those 15 bidding battles.
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, had a mixed outing. They were the losing bidders on 11 occasions on the 18 players who earned bids from more than one team and were successful in clinching only six players in such situations. However, they bought 11 players at their base price, only behind Royal Challengers' 12.
The youngest and oldest players in the mix
The oldest player sold at the auction was Jasia Akhtar, the 34-year-old uncapped Indian. The sold list featured three other players who are going to be 34 by the time the tournament started: Erin Burns, Shabnim Ismail and Harmanpreet.
Two 15-year-olds also got teams: Sonam Yadav and Shabnam Shakil. Sonam was born in July 2007, a month after Shakil. Alice Capsey was the youngest among the overseas players; the 18-year-old from England was born in August 2004.

Sampath Bandarupalli is a statistician at ESPNcricinfo