Thursday, February 13, 2014

Uncapped players hog auction limelight

Rishi Dhawan during a practice session at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. File photo: V. Ganesan

Karn Sharma and Rishi Dhawan top the charts; Karnataka players also snapped up

Cricketers, who sweat it out in domestic cricket but almost inevitably miss the limelight and have to settle for a lesser remuneration package in the Indian Premier League, finally got their due.

The inclusion of uncapped players in the auction-list, a first in the IPL’s seven-year history, helped merit and market-forces determine their real worth and men like Karn Sharma and Rishi Dhawan will readily agree that they got their just reward.

The two topped the charts (for uncapped players) while the auction concluded at the ITC Gardenia Hotel here on Thursday. Karn Sharma earned Rs. 3.75 crore as Sunrisers Hyderabad pipped King’s XI Punjab and bagged the Railways leg-spinner.

Karn’s auction marked a busy morning in which auctioneer Richard Madley found more sales as the teams enriched their Indian component.

More than happy

Having played for Sunrisers in the past, Karn was more than happy to be back with a familiar team-environment. “It’s a great feeling to have been picked at such a high price. I am glad to go back to my team because we have jelled as a unit in the previous season and we will save time on team building.

“It was disappointing to have been left out of the Rest of India team and the World Twenty20 probables, because playing for the country is a different feeling. But now I am looking forward to doing well in the IPL,” said Karn.

Rishi Dhawan too triggered a bidding war as Preity Zinta (King’s XI Punjab) and Rahul Dravid (Rajasthan Royals) kept raising their paddles before the former India captain admitted that his team was out of the race.

The Himachal Pradesh fast bowler — highest wicket-taker (49) in the recent Ranji season — and a useful batsman, went for Rs. 3 crore.

“To be honest, I was very tense when the bidding was on. Now, I am very happy that my efforts this season have paid off. I am sure if I continue to play to my potential the selectors will take note of me.

“There are great players in the Kings XI Punjab team and I am looking forward to playing and at the same time learning from them,” said Dhawan.

Also rewarded for hard-work was Maharashtra’s Kedar Jadhav, who led the Ranji run-chart this year at 1,223. He was picked up by Delhi Daredevils for Rs. 2 crore.

Scaled down expectations

The batsman, however, had to scale down his expectations. “My fine run in the Ranji Trophy where I finished as the top run getter obviously helped. But I did expect to go for a higher price so my price fell below my expectations. But I guess the franchisees didn’t have too much money left.”

The auction also recognised Karnataka’s successful run in the Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup. Players like K.L. Rahul, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair found respectable numbers in currency though Mumbai Indians got C.M. Gautam at a steal for Rs. 20 lakh!

The auction’s final day wasn’t just about unsung Indian players gaining those extra bucks and belated recognition, it was also about a few comeback stories.

Ross Taylor, who was overlooked on Wednesday, was brought back into the auction-pool and found a buyer at his Rs. 2 crore base price in Delhi Daredevils.

But there was a touch of bewilderment too as Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews, reinstated to the auction list on the insistence of the team-owners, were again ignored!

In all 154 players were sold over the two days and now it is time for the teams to firm up their preparations while also keeping an eye on the IPL’s probable venue that will be determined entirely by the imminent general elections.

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