From beneath the Hammer !!!

Achcha first things first. Day 1 of IPL 4 auction clarified a few things:

  1. Its getting merciless and cut throat – there are games being played even before the first toss taking place. Teams are not only bidding for getting players but also to ensure other teams exhaust their purses fast
  2. Strategy was the king – and that was delightful to see – While the 2 new entrants got together to build their sides, older ones wanted to cash on this opportunity to ensure they have a complete over haul.
  3. India is King @ IPL – the last edition clearly underlined the value of a good set of Indian players in the side and no wonder there was grand appreciation in the value of young Indian players
  4. Decision making benchmark – Previous IPL performances – Clearly International cricket had not much of a bearing – IPL has its own legacy and that will dictate strategy and price tags (ask Saurabh Tiwary)
  5. Indian Legends – You belong to the Hall of Fame not here – They are legends but when Money is decision maker, it’s the overall Value that makes the call – Unless you bring in at least 2 quality contributions there isn’t much value for you. (I guess deep down Ganguly knew there won’t be many takers – Only batting and some medium pace cant guarantee your position, add to that the headache of hiding you on the field for 20 overs and the whole headache around personality management – no one wants to touch you with a bargepole – However I do think if he would have kept his base price at 200K, he would have got picked by someone)

So quickly lets take a look at where things are at this point of time:

Royal Challengers Bangalore : Virat, Dilshan, De Villiers, Zaheer, Vettori, Saurabh Tiwary, Nannes, Pujara (Purse Left $1.08Mn)

RCB certainly made it clear with its strategy to look for an overhaul and go for slightly younger lot (Remember Dravid, Kumble, Kallis, Boucher etc.)when they dint retain anyone except Virat kohli (which to me was a great call – future of Indian Cricket and Leadership Material). So it wasn’t surprising at all when they went hell for leather for Saurabh Tiwary. As it stands, I wouldn’t say it’s the best balance we have out there, as there is considerable amount of dependence on the Phoren Babas. They had one of the weakest Indian bench the first season and hence at suffered. Edition 2 they had Pandey and Uthappa added which took them to finals. Now again they aren’t looking very strong from Indian standpoint. They need a good opener to go with Dilshan followed by Kohli, De Villiers, then the rest.

I am curious to know who the Captain would be!!! It can be Dan Vettori with kohli as Deputy. But then Dr. Mallya is known to take risks, won’t be surprised if the mantle gets passed to Virat right away- Very interestingly poised!!!

On a balance quotient: 4/10

Delhi: Sehwag, I. Pathan, Warner, Naman Ojha, James Hopes, Morne Morkel, Aaron Finch (Purse Left $3.16Mn)

With neither Sehwag, nor Eric Simmons (both at SA, with Sehwag in transit on his way back home), I was surprised to see the way Delhi went about making the team. They still have a hefty sum left and may be have their eyes set on Day 2 auctiona dn some uncapped players (their season 1 team also had a lot of catchment and local players – Viru likes it that way). But as it stands I am clueless where this is heading. Sehwag, Warner, Finch – All of them come from the same school of batting or at least the neighborhood schools. This is another team like RCB unwilling to retain the previous side – and is looking too ill balanced at this point. I would keenly await to see th proceedings today how they go – at this point I don’t see strategy emanating from the GMR dudes. (the crazy price paid for I. Pathan was baffling, with the pathan boy still not bowling full clip after injury – Unless theres a leadership role in store for him there – I am clueless why Delhi went so crazily after him).

Of course there’s heavy reliance on Sehwag. Point to note – Sehwag plays in a different league when he is with Gauti. And now with such over reliance a few successive failures at the start of the competition might just seal the fate for DD.

On a balance quotient: 2/10

Hyderabad: Pietersen, White, Sangakarra, Duminy, Dhawan, Ishant, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Dale Steyn (Purse Left $3.5Mn)

If there was one team which has studied itself in the last 3 years well and is determined to make amends its DC. Thoroughly impressed with the way they went about their strategy of picking up a team that can be successful. After Day one they certainly seem have invested their dollars wisely in securing some of the best T20 international brains available, add to that Dale Steyn. They were one of those teams who didn’t retain any players from past season, thus making it obvious they are going for a complete overhaul – how?

Most Cetrtainly the price paid for Cameroon White proves he is the Captain (Darren Lehmann at work). White on hi spart couldn’t have thanked his stars more…within 48 hours from getting the Australian T20 captaincy he bags another plum job. As they say opportunity can come even when you are 70. With good international talent in the bag now DC thintank is going for Doemstic guns, which many teams missed out on – Dhawan, Ojha, Ishant, Mishra etc. I like this Left arm orthodox and Genuine Leg spin combo (Though the Hyderabad track doesn’t turn too much).

By far out of the new teams DC looks strong and well balanced.

On a balance quotient: 7/10

Kolkata: Gambhir, Y. Pathan, Kallis, Haddin, Shakib, Lee, Tiwary, Eoin Morgan (Purse Left $1.42Mn)

When there is SRK, there is excitement and anticipation. KKR has always been in news since the day they didn’t retain Dada and anyone else. With the tension that was writ large on the thintank at the auction table (with SRK absent), it was clear there was a strong dictat – get me a team that wins, I don’t want to be just the entertainment quotient at IPL.

So the team got to work – finding a new captain – and ended paying literally through their nose for Gambhir. Gauti has proved to be a good leader in the absence of MSD in the recently concluded NZ series. And that tilted the balance in his favour. But $2.4 Mn. Hmmm…KKR is desperate.

Anyways, the world pooh poohed their decision to spend big in the morning – but I belive towards the end they came out quite ok. I think Shakib (Why the hell aren’t people investing in Bangladesh talents – Tamim went unsold !!!), Eoin and Lee were great buys. These tilted the balance scale to a much even keel. I like the look of this team.

However, I would wait till the complete teams get selected. Sourav had singlehandedly screwed the KKR balance last time around with his choice of domestic and catchment players (Remember agarkar, murali karthik, Lakshmi shukla, Akash chorpa, Sanjay Bangar et al). There lies their key this time too. (Especially with a miniscule money left in the tank)

On a balance quotient: 6/10

Punjab: Gilchrist, D. Hussey, D. Karthik, S. Broad, Abhishek Nayar, S. Marsh, Praveen Kumar, R. Harris, Piyush Chawla (Purse Left $2.17Mn)

The problem with aussie coaches is that they feel, an Aussie captain and few good aussies will tilt the scale in their favour. I am completely disappointed with Michael Bevan’s judgement in selection of KXIP. I say so, because I hold him in high regards as a coach after seeing him take his team to Success in ICL (Chennai Superstars). Even there he had Stuart Law as captain but he had a great mix of Indian Talent (Satish, Thiru Kumaran, Shabbir, Gautham ..Et al ). So when they went for Gilchrist, I was like “OK” but as the day progressed it looked just too fragmented. With Gilchrist, Hussey, Marsh and Harris in the side… Bevo certainly is counting too much on the Aussie firepower to bail this team out.

As for the franchisees they were dumbstruck – clueless !!! On paper I do find some balance, but its tilted too much foreign players dependant there lies my acidity. This was the bane for KXIP in the last few seasons, and again they are treading the same path.

On a balance quotient: 3/10

Mumbai: Sachin, Pollard, Malinga, Bhajji, Rohit, Symonds, Davey Jacobs, Franklin (Purse Left $1.36Mn)

Sachin, wants a good team of all rounders period. Last time around he burnt his fingers on Jayasuriya, Pollock he makes amends with Symonds, Frnaklin and Davey Jacobs. All the 3 will be available for the whole season. I feel Mumbai is getting is right, and with last year’s success they certainly have a great opportunity to build on that momentum to plug the gaps. I would have wanted them to retain Saurabh Tiwary – a huge reason for last season’s success… but alas. Also, letting Zaheer go was baffling, as Malinga alone isn’t enough. Mumbai needs bowlers… apart from Malinga and bhajji rest all are all rounders and may not hold great in tough situations.

Interestingly poised..

On a balance quotient: 4/10

Rajasthan: Warne, Watson, Taylor, Dravid, Botha, Collingwood (Purse Left $1.2Mn)

Akin to the previous seasons, Warne’s tactics is to have a few worldly greats and build a “Team” around the with willing bunch of local (read low cost) talent. With Rajasthan reaching Ranji finals many from that side can hope for some Summer Bonus. For the moment RR (fresh out of courts with truncated budget – $7 Mn.) looked totally lost. Though Taylor, Collingowwd and Botha can be great buys …but where’s Indian players…they would be the key. It was certainly clear they couldn’t have retained Pathan… but If I was them I would have taken that risk. But then one player never makes a team …. And their affordability was limited.

As it stands – it isn’t looking very good.

On a balance quotient: 2/10

Pune: Yuvraj, Uthappa, Paine, Angelo Matthews, Nehra, Callm Ferguson, N. McCullum, G. Smith (Purse Left $2.13 Mn)

I like this. If this was a facebook post I would have clicked on the LIKE button few times. There was a lot of noise around Uthappa’s price… I don’t think so. Noone loked at the aspect that Sahara picked him as a WK/Batsman, and that’s a precious commodity. Robin is a gamechanger. Needs to be given a solid role. He is capable of being a Y Pathan, so that price is quite justified. Angelo, Callum, smith. McCullum – Great buys. For a first timer, this looks quite a solid team.

One suggestion – Don’t look at Yuvi as captain !!! (As of now it looks that way). That would be a disaster. This teams looking hot, and the captaincy decision might make it sizzle or Phusss.

On a balance quotient: 7/10

Kochi: VVS, Mahela, B. McCullum, Sreesanth, Parthiv, R. Jadeja, Steven Smith, Murali, Powar, Hodge, RP Singh (Purse Left $2.08Mn)

Mighty impressed. Geoff Lawson had a plan and he went around actualizing it well. Mahela J, is captain. No doubts – whatsoever (did you expect Sreesanth??). Great batting, with good fast bowling (Sree and RP) and Powerful spin (Jadeja, Murali, Smith, Powar). This looks good. And they have got 11 players with over $ Mn still in the kitty. Very impressive. TThis team will need some gelling, but once done, they can be lethal.

Irony is the originators of this team weren’t in place till some weeks back. And for such a team to come with such clear head was commendable. I woud like to see some additions to fast bowling arsenal and some good local batting talent added. They will have a respectable team.

On a balance quotient: 7/10

Chennai: Dhoni, Raina, Vijay, A. Morkel, W. Saha, M. Hussey, D. Bravo, D. Bollinger, Ashwin, Badrinath (Purse Left $1.38Mn)

My team. Defending champions – IPL3 and Champions Leauge 2010, SF IPL2, Finalists IPL1. That’s a great record. And MSD had stated it clearly after winningthe CLT20, that its disappointing that the format demands the teams to be disbanded after the season 3 and auctions done to have new teams slected. As it takes a lot of time and effort to “build” a team. They did build a powerful team and were crestfallen when they had to let it all go – just when they started hitting the right cords. He did lament that “We will do whatever we can to get back the same team”.

The owners obliged – Barring the exception of Parthiv, & Murali (this loss is big) they picked everyone from the previous seasons. On my book they will be the most well prepared, gelled and balanced (and experienced) as a team. Also the boys with extra dollars in their banks will be more charged. What CSK needs (Now that they have the 8 out of previous 11, and add Bravo to the mix instad of Murali), is to have good domestic and Catchment bench. S. Anirudha will be back (trust me 100%). So will be L Balaji I guess. They had a weak bowling bench – gony, tyagi. Thye probably can do a bit better there.

Overall I would rate their balance very high – as this has been the most successful team in the last last 3 seasons.

On a balance quotient: 8/10

With almost $19.5 Mn. Still left to spend and a long list of talent going under the hammer, lets see how all the teams fare. I for one am expecting to see, a lot of cerebral decisions ahead of emotions (as was the order of the day on Day 1). Will be keen to watch what happens with the unsold lot as I feel there is some strategy to buy them cheap (at their base price) towards the end.

Till then ….fingers crossed.



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