Batsmen earn top dollar, fast bowlers remain blue chip

All eight franchises picked half their squads on the first day of the IPL auction. Based on buying strategies, ESPNcricinfo looks at the major trends coming out of Saturday.

Batsmen still earn the top dollar

If you remove the trio of Ben Stokes, Mitchell Starc and Rashid Khan, franchises invested heavily in top-order batsmen. With their core disintegrated, and the players dispersed among the auction pool, franchises were desperate to get the best top-order batsmen quickly. No surprises then as four of the most expensive players bought on the first day of the auction were batsmen. The Indian pair of KL Rahul (Kings XI Punjab) and Manish Pandey (Sunrisers Hyderabad) were bought for INR 11 crore (US$ 1.7 millon) each, while Australia batsman Chris Lynn earned INR 9.6 crore (US$1.5 million) from his previous franchise Kolkata Knight Riders.

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Uncapped Indians a hit

Over the years, the value of the Indian uncapped player has been steadily on the rise. This auction the IPL decided to alternate the sets of capped players with the uncapped ones. The franchises were happy, but wary at the same time since they would need to spend their purse wisely. Last year, unknowns like T Natarajan, Basil Thampi, Mohammed Siraj, to name a few of the uncapped players, were bought for massive sums of the money. This year, the franchises carried out the price correction while retaining wide interest in the uncapped Indian category.

The players picked on Saturday were well-thought investments after the franchise scouts and coaches had ascertained each of these players had a skillset and a role to perform for the team. These included: Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians for INR 6.2 crore/$968,000), Rahul Tripathi (Rajasthan Royals for INR 3.4 crore/$531,000), Rahul Tewatia (Delhi Daredevils for INR 3 crore/$468,000), Ankit Rajpoot (Kings XI Punjab for INR 3 crore/$468,000), Khaleel Ahmed (Sunrisers Hyderabad for INR 3 crore/$468,000) and Navdeep Saini (Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 3 crore/$468,000).

Advantage wicketkeeper-batsman

When Parthiv Patel, one of the experienced wicketkeepers in India, went unsold, eyebrows went up. However, franchises were more keen on glovesmen doubling up as an impact player with the bat. Hence, it was again no surprise to see Dinesh Karthik, Sanju Samson, Kishan, and even Rahul getting big money due to the supply-demand factor. Even before the auction, Daredevils retained Rishabh Pant, who recently hit the fastest T20 century by an Indian, off 32 balls. As much as they treasure safe hands behind the wickets, teams are impressed by the aggressive batting of most of the above names, who can turn in match-wininng performances.

Fast bowlers remain blue chip

Pure pace has a role in Twenty20 cricket, even on Indian pitches. And, hence, every franchise contested fiercely to get at least two quality fast bowlers, both Indian and overseas, capped and uncapped. Such a strategy should not come as a surprise for two reasons. Firstly, pitches in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Mohali, and Jaipur, all support pace. And, importantly, in the death overs it is the fast bowlers who have proved to be more effective in terms of restricting runs and taking wickets.

Young Indian quicks emerge as investments

A healthy segment of the fast bowlers bought comprised Indians and even among them there was a significant number of young uncapped Indian quicks. Rajasthan fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who is currently playing in the Under-19 World Cup, Khaleel Ahmed, Avesh Khan, Rajpoot and Saini earned a good amount of money for their ability to deliver the ball at least 140 kph consistently on Indian pitches. These players remain an investment for the franchise who will help them develop into a matchwinner and become part of the core group in the near future.

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