India pace bowler Jaydev Unadkat laughed his way to the bank while T20 legend Chris Gayle almost missed out on appearing for the 11th edition of the IPL before being bought in the final session as the players' auction came to a conclusion here on Sunday.
Saurashtra's Unadkat, the left-arm swing bowler who performed exceedingly well for runners-up Rising Pune Supergiant last season by emerging as their highest wicket taker (24), was bid for aggressively by Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab. Both teams were ready to break the bank and kept pursuing him until CSK pulled out of the race at Rs 11 crore.
Sporting a great smile at having locked in a wonderful purchase, KXIP co-owner Preity Zinta was instantly taken aback in shock as Rajasthan Royals, silent spectators until then, raised the tempo with a mighty 11.5 crore bid.
The Kings XI think-tank held a deep discussion before pulling out of the race. Auctioneer Richard Madley then looked around for anymore bidders but none could exceed that sum. Unadkat, who is in the Indian squad for the T20I series against South Africa, thus became the highest buy of day two and the second highest buy of this auction.
Gayle, holder of a record 20 centuries in T20s and one of the major crowd pullers in the IPL, looked like he may not return to the most expensive and popular cricket league in the world. Ignored on day one, the giant West Indian marauder was brought back to the table for a second time in the morning's accelerated process. Shockingly, nobody raised their paddle as one wondered if the franchises chose to ignore him over his recent dip in form. Thankfully, for him and a legion of his fans, he was brought back for a third time in the post-lunch session where Kings XI Punjab bid and secured him for his base price of Rs 2 crore.
Like Saturday where Karnataka players K L Rahul, Manish Pandey and Karun Nair went for plenty, it was the turn of off-spinning all-rounder K Gowtham to enter the rich club. A consistent performer for Karnataka but who warmed the benches for Mumbai Indians after being bought for Rs 2 crore last year, Gowtham saw Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders pursue him before the former pulled out at 45 lakhs. MI entered the fray at Rs 1.2 crore and RCB also pitched in again at Rs 1.6 crore. RR and RCB then waged a war and the latter decided to stop at Rs 6.2 crore, Royals picking him up for that price at 31 times his base amount.
It was an auction to remember for Afghanistan players with four of them finding buyers - a huge boost for the war-torn nation. Mujeeb Zadran was picked up by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 4 crore while Mohammed Nabi (1 cr) was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad and Zahir Khan Pakteen (60 lakh) by Rajasthan Royals. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan was retained using Right To Match card by SRH for a huge 9 crore on Saturday.
With many teams having spent more than half their sums on the opening day, the second day witnessed just a few major buys with most trying to extract the most out of their budgets. Many of them filled their squads with players priced at Rs 20 lakh with Mumbai Indians boasting of seven such cricketers.
The auction did go according to the plans of some but for a few there were some misses. But in general the teams were able to balance their squads with some talented players. By the looks of it, most teams have a balanced line-up and would be waiting for the on-field action to kick-start on April 7.