by Anish Acharya
The IPL auction is one of the most pivotal days which determines what happens in the 2 months of the tournament. It is replete with mind boggling figures, dramatic stories and a few heartbreaks. There is a huge chunk of players that goes unsold at every auction; the figure being 286 in the recent 2017 edition. Teams do not necessarily get the players that they want in this bidding war and end up spending more on a few others. A few days into the tournament one starts to spot apparent weaknesses in teams and they wish they could revisit the auctions again. The IPL 2017 was a big disappointment in terms of getting to the play-off spots which were majorly decided after 11 games. A late surge from KXIP made things interesting but the bottom 4 deserved to be where they are. Here are a list of unsold players, one per team, the bottom 4 teams wish they had bought when given the chance:
DD: Michael Klinger
Delhi Daredevils did well to boost up their somewhat weak pace attack in the 2017 auction by purchasing the South African sensation Kasigo Rabada and the fiery Aussie Pat Cummins. However, they did precious little to add to their inexperienced Indian batting line up further weakened by the absence of JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock. After their second match against the RPS where DD posted 205, it looked as if the young Indians would step up in the absence of the international players. Apart from 3-4 sparkling individual performances, the lack of experience showed in the future matches where they even failed to reach the 3 figure mark as a team twice.
Michael Klinger probably is the unluckiest cricketer on the Australian cricket circuit. With a huge bag of 11000+ first class runs behind him, he brings with him a wealth of experience and consistency which the DD team clearly lacked. He is brilliant in the T20 format as well when he guided the Perth Scorchers to the BBL victory with a 71 in the final. He is also the top run scorer in the BBL with a tally of 1608 runs from just 51 matches. A player of the calibre of “Maxy”, as he is called, would have brought in a sense of calm and a big match temperament to this frenzied DD batting for just 50 lakhs.
RCB: Thisara Perera
To mostly everyone all over the world, it came as a massive shock that a team containing perhaps the top 3 batsman in the shortest form of the game finish last in the IPL with just 3 wins from 14 matches. With a star studded batting line-up, everyone, including the experts in the cricketing fraternity were in disbelief with their performances. But one deep look in the RCB squad and you find that it looks eminently out of depth with 3 foreigner batsman without a suitable replacement and Shane Watson as the sole all-rounder. RCB were outstanding last season because King Kohli and Mr. 360 were in the form of their life blazing the opposition bowling attacks away. RCB did well in the auction to strengthen their bowling by purchasing the mystery Englishman Tymal Mills and Billy Stanlake. One thing they assumed was the form of fitness of Shane Watson which belied them.
Thisara Perera is a T20 specialist. His lower order hard hitting exploits and his ability to bowl yorkers are well known. He has even had decent IPL experiences with CSK, KXIP, MI and KTK. Thisara Perera could have been a like to like replacement of Shane Watson coming down the order after the big 3. Watson flopped big time in the IPL with just 71 runs and 5 wickets from 8 matches that he was a part of. RCB always looked a batsman short this season and a 198 T20 matches veteran in the form of Thisara Perera would have done them no harm!
GL: Imran Tahir
Gujarat Lions went from being the table toppers in 2016 to just missing the wooden spoon in IPL 2017. This huge fall from grace can be attributed to their baffling auction strategy. With the unsure nature of their star, Dwayne Bravo’s injury, it was assumed that they would be strengthening their bowling attack. They did so by acquiring Andrew Tye who performed brilliantly for them until he got injured. A big hole they failed to fill was the role of the second spinner. After the release of Tambe and Karn Sharma last year, they relied majorly on Ravindra Jadeja to be their main spinner. Jakati and Shivil Kaushik, with due respect, are squad players and can’t be playing day in day out.
Amongst all the unsold players, one exclusion that stood out was that of Imran Tahir. He was ranked 1 in the ODI and T20 formats when the auction took place and his omission was startling. He was later roped in by the RPS as a replacement for Mitchell Marsh and boy he didn’t disappoint! Interestingly he took 3 wickets against GL when the two sides met in Pune to show ‘what could have been’ for GL. Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t in the best bowling form this IPL with just 5 wickets from 12 matches with an average of 69.8. GL could have made an investment of just 50 lakh on Tahir from the 10 crore purse they did not utilize.
KXIP: Sean Abbot
KXIP finished rock bottom in IPL 2016 with their foreign stars failing to impress. The bowling department was identified as their weak link and they were poised to strengthen that during the auction. They went for pace with Varun Aaron, Matt Henry and T Natrajan getting contracts. Their bowlingworkload during the season was mostly shared by the 3 Sharmas: Sandeep, Mohit and Ishant. Though Sandeep Sharma was scintillating while swinging the new ball both sides he was not able to find an ally. Ishant Sharma was very expensive (ER: 10) which was the case with Mohit Sharma as well who finished the season with an Economy Rate of nearly 9. Matt Henry failed when given a chance which led to KXIP leaking too many runs for their batsman to achieve.
Sean Abbot was the highest wicket taker in the BBL this season. He was a consistent wicket taker for the Sydney Sixers and took them to the semi-finals of the Big Bash. Though he hasn’t played much in India, his consistency would have definitely helped the inconsistent KXIP bowling line-up. With a base price of just 30 lakhs, KXIP seemed to have missed a trick by overlooking the Australian medium pacer.