February 18, 2021 5:13:33 pm
A fierce tussle between four franchises saw South African all-rounder Chris Morris become the biggest buy in the IPL’s history at Rs 16.25 crore, when Rajasthan Royals trumped others. Morris surpassed Yuvraj Singh’s Rs 16-crore contract with Delhi Daredevils in 2015. Glenn Maxwell’s value skyrocketed at the IPL auction on Thursday following a fierce bidding war between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings. Eventually at Rs 14 crore CSK relented, while RCB went a step further to rope in the Australian allrounder.
Was a bidding war for Morris expected?
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Yes. Fast-bowling all-rounders – the ability to bowl at 140k and score at a rate knots – are at a premium. At the 2020 auction, RCB had spent Rs 10 crore for Morris. They released him this term, but their bidding attested that a buy-back was always on their mind. Mumbai Indians, despite being a complete squad, went for him to have an impact player lower down the order. Punjab Kings, too, wanted to add meat to their power-hitting and pace bowling and snapped at Royals’ heels until the last moment. Ben Stokes’s possible unavailability in the latter half of this year’s tournament – he might return to play for England – could be a reason why Rajasthan Royals went for Morris. As the bidding confirmed, Royals were determined to have him.
Doesn’t Morris have an injury history?
He has. He missed the first few matches of the IPL last year and was available only for nine games. And yet, Royals broke the bank for him, because Morris is a top death-overs bowler apart from his batting pyrotechnics. Bereft of a suitable partner for Jofra Archer, Royals had suffered badly in the death overs in the last year’s tournament. They plugged the void.
Why is Maxwell such a prized possession always?
Because his hitting can change the complexion of a T20 match in a couple of overs. On Indian pitches, his off-spin offers a handy support to frontline bowlers. Maxwell can bowl inside Powerplays as well. At the 2020 IPL auction also, Maxwell was one of the most expensive buys, when Kings XI Punjab bought him for Rs 10.75 crore. But he had an underwhelming tournament, with 108 runs from 13 matches and just 3 wickets. Punjab released him this year, but his value didn’t diminish. It rather went up by nearly Rs 4 crore. Maxwell’s 150 strike-rate in the India-Australia T20I series Down Under that followed the IPL, served as a reminder of his impact.
Why did RCB and CSK go all out for Maxwell?
They were both looking for a big-hitting allrounder, preferably a spinner. RCB released Moeen Ali ahead of the auction. They wanted to replace him with someone who could more than make up for the departure. Maxwell has been there and done that. He knows the Indian conditions inside out.
Similarly, CSK, too, wanted a big-hitter to replace Shane Watson, who retired from all formats of cricket from the last year’s IPL. They missed an off-spinner last term and Maxwell would have been a perfect buy.
How did RCB edge out CSK?
Because of the money available. They had an auction purse of Rs 35.40 crore to start with, while CSK had Rs 19.90 crore in their kitty. That proved to be the difference. After a point, CSK had to relent, for they have had some other gaps in the playing squad to fill.
Did CSK lose badly?
No. A franchise insider informed this paper on the auction eve that while Maxwell would be their first choice, they had England’s Moeen Ali as “a perfect backup”. Moeen fits the bill for a big-hitter, who is a fine off-spinner across formats. CSK spent Rs 7 crore to seal the deal. On Chepauk turners, Ali could be a vital cog in MS Dhoni’s spin-choke.
Why do the likes of Morris and Maxwell get big money?
Because they are impact allrounders. Requirements and auction purse determine the IPL auction dynamics. If a team is looking for a seam or spin-allrounder, it can go all out for a particular player subject to purse available. Punjab went into the auction with Rs 53.20 crore. Royals had Rs 37.85 crore. They had the money to walk the extra mile for Morris. The likes of Morris and Maxwell might not be the best allrounders in the world, but they perfectly fit into the IPL requirements, where utility is the name of the game.
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