Smith, Shakib, Malan – Biggest Steals of the 2021 IPL Auction

The event had plenty of drama in store with surprise omissions, staggering amounts, and a few steal picks.

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IPL
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It has been just over three months since the end of IPL 2020, and the atmosphere is already abuzz with the upcoming edition of the tournament. The eight franchises gathered in Chennai on Thursday, 18 February, for the mini-auctions in order to fine-tune their squads ahead of the 14th season of the IPL from April.

The event had plenty of drama in store with surprise omissions, staggering amounts, and a few steal picks. We look at some players who were expected to arouse greater interest from teams considering their current form and skill-set but ended up going for relatively cheap amounts.

Here are the steal deals from the IPL 2021 auction:

Steve Smith (Rs 2.2 Crore, Delhi Capitals)

Though Steve Smith did not set IPL 2020 on fire – he scored 311 runs at a strike rate of 131.22 – he was expected to interest a few other teams considering the experience he has. The Australian is a solid player at the top of the order, and lends plenty of stability and has been one of the most reliable players for his country in the last few years.

Smith, with a base price of Rs 2 crore, was expected to interest teams such as Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings, but surprisingly got a lukewarm response before Delhi Capitals picked him up. The DC franchise has a top-heavy batting unit with Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, and Ajinkya Rahane already in their ranks, and it would be interesting to see where they slot in Smith. However, Shaw struggled with his technique for major parts of IPL 2020, and the new recruit Smith could potentially open the batting alongside Dhawan.

A major reason why franchises did not show major interest in Smith could be due to his strike-rate in the shortest format, but his ability to adapt to any situation makes him a huge X-factor in the side. He will also have a point to prove after being released by Rajasthan Royals ahead of the season, and could have one of his best IPL seasons.

Fabian Allen (Rs 75 Lakh, Punjab Kings)

The West Indian was expected to fetch higher bids considering all that he brings to the table. Fabian Allen has a strike rate of over 159 in T20 matches and has also managed to pick up 17 wickets in 32 games whilst conceding runs at an economy rate of just 7.85.

Allen has a strike rate of 177.9 while batting at number 7 in T20s, which increases to 212.9 between overs 16 to 20, and with a number of teams on the look-out for an effective finisher, it was a surprise that the player was bought for his base price. He can send down four overs of his left-arm orthodox spin regularly as well, and Punjab will be pleased that that they managed to get on board the dangerous all-rounder at just Rs 75 lakh.

File  photo of Shakib Al Hasan at a training session with Bangladesh. 
File  photo of Shakib Al Hasan at a training session with Bangladesh. 
(Image Courtesy: Twitter) 

Shakib Al Hasan (Rs 3.2 Crore, Kolkata Knight Riders)

Shakib Al Hasan is another spinning all-rounder who was expected to start a bidding war due to his experience and his skills with both bat and ball. After an excellent 2019 World Cup in England, where he ended as the only player with 600+ runs and 10+ wickets, Shakib was banned by the ICC for failing to report advances from bookies. The Bangladeshi returned to international cricket earlier this year, and immediately impressed with figures of 4 for 8 in his first ODI since the ban. He also contributed with scores of 19, 43*, and 51 in the three games against West Indies, and was likely to end the day as one of the most expensive buys.

Not only has Shakib almost single-handedly emerged as the go-to player for Bangladesh in the last few years, he has done well in the IPL as well, and helped Kolkata Knight Riders to two crowns – in 2012 and 2014. His lack of match practice in the recent past could have been a reason why sides did not bid higher for the all-rounder.

Umesh Yadav (Rs 1 Crore, Delhi Capitals)

The fast bowler is a much better bowler than what his numbers reveal. Umesh Yadav was released after a disastrous season for Royal Challengers Bangalore where he conceded runs at an economy rate of 11.85 without picking up a single wicket. The bowler is often guilty of leaking runs in the death overs, but the fact is that Umesh has never been suited for bowling at the fag end of the innings.

In the IPL, Umesh has the best numbers when he is bowling with the new ball. In 108 innings when he has bowled between overs 1 to 6, Umesh has picked up 47 wickets at an economy rate of 7.63. His economy rate drastically increases as the innings progresses – he has an economy rate of 8.94 between overs 12 to 16, and an economy rate of 10.51 between overs 17-20.

Considering that a capped Indian fast bowler is a rare commodity in the IPL, teams were expected to bid for Umesh Yadav. Sides such as Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, and Kolkata Knight Riders could all have done with the services of Umesh, who was eventually picked up for his base price, much to the shock of many.

Adam Milne (Rs 3.2 Crore, Mumbai Indians)

While fast bowlers such as Jhye Richardson and Kyle Jamieson broke the bank, Adam Milne, another equally effective pacer, failed to grab much attention. However, Mumbai Indians will be more than pleased with the Rs 3.2 crore that they shelled out for the New Zealander, who has made a name for himself as one of the best death overs bowlers in T20 leagues in the last few years.

The fast bowler has an economy rate of 7.20 between overs 16 to 20 in T20 games since 2016 – the best economy rate among bowlers who have sent down a minimum of 100 balls in this duration. With the ability to bowl constantly at 150 kmph, Milne could have been a great addition to any IPL franchise. However, the fact that he did not have the best season in the Big Bash League might have prompted teams to overlook him. Mumbai Indians, though, will be mightily pleased as they not only add to their already rich reserve of experienced fast bowlers but do so by shelling out just Rs 3.2 crore.

Dawid Malan (Rs 1.5 Crore, Punjab Kings)

The English players did not have the best outing in the IPL 2021 auction, with players such as Jason Roy and Alex Hales failing to get a single bid. Dawid Malan, the world’s number 1 T20I batsman, did find a franchise but at his base price of Rs 1.5 crore. Malan, who has a strike rate of close to 150 in T20Is, has a 50+ score in 10 of the 19 innings that he has batted for England. With an unbeaten 103 and an unbeaten 99 to his name as well, Malan has been one of the most consistent players in the world.

He adds the much-needed zing to any batting order, but with IPL teams more or less having a settled top-order, there was hardly a scope for Malan to fetch bids like a Glenn Maxwell did. He has been bought on board by Punjab as a back-up for Chris Gayle, and if he can show his skills in the limited opportunities that he gets, he will well be worth the Rs 1.5 crore that was spent on him.

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