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By Abhijit Banare
At the end of Day One of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 auction, Preity Zinta made a passing mention that they have reserved a lot for buying the Indian players, after all they form the major part of the team and uncapped players are as crucial as the international players. Being auctioned for the first time, there were only two broad measures of judging uncapped players.
a) Their past performances in the IPL which players like Karn Sharma, Mandeep Singh and Gurukeerat Mann Singh have done.
b) Look back at the domestic structures to see who’s the best talent on offer.
And going by the trends on the second day, the uncapped players forced the franchisees to loosen their purse strings as much as they did for the overseas and capped players. But at the end of the day, there is a positive lesson to note that Ranji performances do count a lot. The top performers across the tournament made it to the squads of some or the other franchisees. And on expected lines, the best performers took home the bounty.
Players who made it count through Ranji or Past IPL performances:
Kedar Jadhav, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Rishi Dhawan, Ronit More, CM Gautam, Jasprit Bumrah, HS Sharath, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Karn Sharma, Aditya Tare, Karun Nair
Kedar Jadhav and Lokesh Rahul were in the 1,000 runs plus category. In the past, they had played for Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively. Their performances were nowhere close to impressive in the marquee tournament but the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 has surely brought some value to their skills. There is no concrete parameter to compare their aggressive batting skills to the stability they provide for their respective Ranji teams.
Meanwhile the second set of players like Karn Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Gurukeerat Singh Mann had past records in the IPL, even though not the best but they were of great value from uncapped Indian players point of view. The team combination in the earlier editions forced use of uncapped players and hence their performance was critical.
Rishi Dhawan’s is an unique case. He was a combination of a proven IPL performance for the Mumbai Indians as well as the leading wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy. All-rounders are worth in gold for the franchisees. And having an uncapped all-rounder who is as effective as any other overseas player, Dhawan was a priced catch. Manish Pandey too falls in the same league. As far as the exorbitant price of Karn is concerned, perhaps Sunrisers Hyderabad wanted to have their player back. Since he must have been part of their plans, they had decided to go to any extent for the player.
It was a highlight of this year’s auction that the teams were much more planned and judicious in their spending. Same goes with Aditya Tare whom Mumbai kept on bidding but they preferred to give up after a while on other players.
Other performers like Jasprit Bumrah who did well for Gujarat, CM Gautam reaffirmed his value with a ton in the Irani Trophy, HS Sharath again for Karnataka have all been effective performers and were rewarded with a contract. Most of the players aren’t natural T20 players but the teams understand that form and skill matters as much as raw aggressive skills. While their inclusion is a moment of significance for them, one can say that Ranji still matters. Since the start of the IPL, a notion had built up about players preferring to prepare for IPL than focus on Ranji. But this auction nails what is important.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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