Does turning in an eye-catching performance in domestic cricket just before IPL auctions make a difference? We shall know for sure if Mumbai’s Shivam Dube is picked for more than his Rs20 lakh base price on Tuesday afternoon in the auction in Jaipur. He has turned in decent performances in the season, but the highlight came on Monday when he blasted five successive sixes in an over in the Ranji game against Baroda. He didn’t play a shot off the sixth ball, and we will come to the reason for it, but before that a quick look at what’s at stake in the auction.
There will be around 350 cricketers glued to their television sets when the IPL 2019 auction gets underway in Jaipur on Tuesday afternoon. The BCCI had registered 1003 players, which included 232 overseas players for the auction. The franchises have shortlisted around 350 cricketers for Tuesday when 119 capped, 229 capped and two associate nation players will go under the hammer.
With 350 slots up for grabs, a powerhouse performance on the eve of auction can’t hurt. Like Keiron Pollard found out in 2009. Pollard blasted an 18-ball 54 against New South Wales in the Champions League T20 and was picked up by Mumbai Indians in the next IPL auction.
So did Sunil Narine. In the 2011 Champions League, he starred by taking 10 wickets for Trinidad & Tobago at an average of 10.50 and a stunning economy rate of 4.37. He was immediately picked up in the next IPL auction.
Take for instance Kishore Kamath. Remember him? A good run in the 2015 Karnataka Premier league, where he picked up 10 wickets from seven games at an economy rate under 6, saw him being lapped up in the next IPL auction by Mumbai Indians. His base price was Rs 10 lakh, but he went for 1.5 crores, he hasn’t played a first-class game yet.
A similar case is that of M Ashwin, who impressed in the 2015-16 Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament by ending as the second-highest wicket taker with 10 wickets at economy rate of 5.52. That performance got him a Rs 4.5 crore bid from Rising Pune Supergiants in the next IPL auction.
When and where IPL will be played remains unclear
With the core of most IPL teams in place, Tuesday’s auction in Jaipur will be useful in the franchises in filling the few holes in their squads. The proximity of the 50-over World Cup to the 12th edition of the league is also a unique factor going into the auction. The IPL will be followed by the tournament in England in barely a fortnight’s time, though the BCCI is yet to announce the final schedule. It has prompted some national boards — including England and Australia — to limit their players’ participation in the tournament. Another important aspect on which there is still no clarity is the venue for next year’s tournament, due to the general election scheduled for around April. In 2009 and 2014, at least a part of the tournament was held abroad, and without any concrete information about the same for this edition, the franchises would be working on incomplete information when it comes to the auction. The teams that have been more successful over the years — such as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians — will have relatively fewer slots to fill, while perennial laggards like the rechristened Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab may go for another large-scale makeover.
Or consider the South African Tyron Anderson. He was set to retire in 2009 and was thinking about starting a bar, but he was instead picked up by Rajasthan Royals for $650,000. Two knocks in particular had pushed his case: two match winning innings for the English county Middlesex in 2008 T20 tournament was enough to catch the eye of the then Rajasthan captain Shane Warne.
The story goes on from Rishabh Pant and Sarfraz Khan who piggybacked on U-19 performances to fetch themselves hefty IPL contracts.
Curran, Hetmyer might trigger franchises’ interest
With the highest base price for auction listed as Rs 2 crore, there are nine marquee players who have opted for the top bracket. England all-rounder Sam Curran, who came into the limelight during the India tour of England earlier this year, might see some interest. Other international players like New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum, Colin Ingram and Corey Anderson, Sri Lanka’s Angelo Matthew and Lasith Malinga have been declared as marquee players during the IPL auction. The franchises will consider players’ availability as well as the slot they fit into.
All eyes will also be on the West Indian sensation Shimron Hetmyer, who had a productive outing with bat against India in October-November.
Indian players such as Axar Patel, Mohd Shami, Yuvraj Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, Manoj Tiwary, Varun Aaron and Barinder Sarn will go under the hammer.
However, with uncertainty over the IPL venue owing to the looming general election, the franchises might play it safe. If the election happens early, the IPL will be shifted to South Africa. If the election dates clash with just part of the IPL, then one half of the tournament will be held in Dubai and the rest in India. The BCCI has fiddled with all options and will be briefing the IPL franchises.
Each franchise will have to spend at least Rs 61.5 crore from their total purse of Rs 82 crores. Franchises such as Kings XI Punjab has Rs 36.2 crore with it whereas Delhi Capital still has Rs 25.5 crore in their kitty. Around 70 slots are up for grab among the eight franchises, out of which 50 can be filled by Indian and the rest 20 by foreign players. As per IPL rules, each franchise needs to have a minimum of 18 players and a maximum of 25 in their squad.
Why Dube didn’t go for sixth 6
Now to finish the story we started out with. Why didn’t Dube go for it? Dube had made up his mind; he was intent on swinging his bat as hard as he could. After all it was the last ball of the over and he had already disposed the previous five over the rope. Dube was just one big shot away from entering the record books of scoring six sixes in an over.
The last time a Mumbai batsman managed to achieve this feat was in 1985 when Ravi Shastri had slammed six sixes in an over. Dube remembers Shastri’s feat, but he is more intimate with the minute details of Yuvraj Singh’s assault in the 2007 T20 World Cup, when he biffed Stuart Board for six sixes.
So, he waited with just one thought when Swapnil Singh ran in to bowl. It was to prove a most anti-climactic end as Dube didn’t offer any shot. It was a delivery a touch away from the leg stump line and Dube thought it would be called a wide. But it was not to be.
“I thought, the umpire will call it a wide. So for one moment, I said chalo ek ball aur milega (I will get one more ball), but I was surprised when umpire handed over the cap to Swapnil,” Dube told The Indian Express.
He couldn’t believe his ill luck that he reacted by a literal head-palm, standing there with his hand on his head in disbelief.
Dube said he started thinking about the six sixes at the completion of the first three big hits; two disappeared over long-on and the first one had flown over long-off.
“I was clear after three balls that I will try to hit three more sixes, but he bowled it wide. It was wide ball, even if I wanted too I couldn’t have gone for that shot. The ball was too far away from reach.”
He might have missed the record but Dube will certainly be on radar of the IPL franchises. His feat couldn’t have come at a better time, just a day before the IPL auction in Jaipur.
Dube first shot into limelight when he hit monstrous sixes during the T20 Mumbai league earlier this year, but by the time he came into the picture, the IPL auction had already happened. Dube said he is not thinking too much about the auction even now.
“Seriously, I haven’t thought about it and frankly am not thinking about it whether I will be picked or not. Let’s see what happens,” he added.