BENGALURU : As the bids went on and on for Englishmen Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills, it was clear that the teams knew what they were doing. They were out to get these guys to balance the team with the hope that they have the winning combination for IPL 10.
All-rounder Stokes was picked up for `14.5 crore by Rising Pune Supergiants, while Mills was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore for `12 crore here on Monday. While marquee player Stokes went up from his base price of `2 crore, Mills was one who earned the big bucks from a base price of `50 lakh.
There will be totally fresh auctions next year, with the possibility that a few may be retained. But that did not stop the teams from making expensive buys. After an expected dull start to the proceedings, things got a bit interesting when it came to all-rounder Pawan Negi, who went to RCB for `1 crore. Last year, he was in the big league with a purse of `8.5 crore.
But, then it came. The bidding for Stokes was a bitter battle, with Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians doing the initial tug of war for him. RCB then jumped into the game and so did Sunrisers Hyderabad and RPS. Quite clearly, no one was going to let him go so easily.
In the end, it was RPS who bagged him. He thus became the most expensive foreign player to be bought, while he was the second highest overall after Delhi Daredevils’ Yuvraj Singh, bought for `16 crore in 2015.
RPS owner Sanjiv Goenka said of Stokes: “He is a complete player and we have been lacking this genre of player. He is the hero we were lacking. It was a conscious strategy because we are reinforcing our core. Our intention to buy him was to focus on the first 14 games.”
Also, Steve Smith was made captain of RPS instead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Asked if he was part of the decision, Goenka said: “Smith, (Stephen) Fleming have all been part of the decision. It was a collaborative decision. As we identified the gaps, Stokes was our number one pick.”
The other stiff battle was fought for Mills, who eventually went to RCB. With the exit of Mitchell Starc, it was clear that the Bengaluru franchise wanted an able replacement. That is why they spent more than 75 per cent of their allowed purse on just one player. RCB Chairman Amrit Thomas said: “We needed to get a first eleven and were in search of a bowler. Mills is a great buy and he suits the conditions in Bengaluru. We would have done whatever was required to get him. Starc’s exit was in the interest of everybody and as per regulations.”
There were some surprises like marquee player Ishant Sharma (base price `2 crore) not getting picked up. However, the capped fast bowlers were the quickest to get picked up but the first lot of spinners went totally untouched.
Mumbai Indians picked up some of the lesser known players. “We have kept disappointment aside. It is not just about picking up big players. We are happy with the players we bought and we have a strategy. We have backed youngsters and will continue to back youngsters. That is our core strength,” said Nita Ambani and son Akash.