Axar, Yuvraj & More: Indian Stars Seeking an IPL Team in 2019
Four pedigreed Indian cricketers in search of a franchise at the IPL 2019 Auction on 18 December.
The IPL 2019 Auction comes along a month after all eight franchises made their cuts and balances by releasing/retaining players in November.
The scorer of the first-ever IPL hundred, the present captain of the reigning World T20 champions, and pretty much all Australians not called Steven Smith or David Warner, find themselves without a team as things stand – but so do some big names in Indian cricket.
It’s not a common occurrence for India’s premier T20 stars, given that IPL teams know by now the vitality of a strong Indian core. Which is why for these India internationals – one of them a World Cup winner, another the most expensive Indian buy at the previous auction – the wait until going under the hammer is sure to be a nervy one.
End of the Road for Yuvraj. Or Is It?
India’s first star of the crash-and-bang format, he who awakened the country’s T20 conscience, has been a fading force for a while now. Yuvraj Singh’s last international appearance for India came in June 2017, and the previous season of the IPL ended with a return of under 100 runs.
Yuvraj averages just 21.65 in the IPL since 2015, with only four half-centuries in 44 matches.
That he will be 37 by the time of the auction, and 37-plus-change when the season commences, does little to help the once-champion batsman’s cause.
Yuvraj holds the top-two slots in the most expensive buys in IPL history, having fetched Rs 14 crore from Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2014, and bettering it with a Rs 16 crore bid from Delhi Daredevils the very next year. The continued slides would suggest any bid would be far-fetched to consider this time around – but then again, this is India’s comeback man we’re talking about.
Freed by Kings XI, Axar Seeks Greener Pastures
The Quint’s pick to fetch the most lucrative pay-day of the capped Indians going into the auction. Unless it was for some unknown ailment, Axar Patel’s absence from Kings XI Punjab’s list of retained players was arguably the most surprising exclusion.
The left-handed all-rounder was possibly a victim of his own price tag – on account of being Punjab’s only retained player ahead of the IPL 2018 auction, Patel drew an enormous paycheque of Rs 12.5 crore. That ‘burden’ now off him, the 24-year-old should garner ample interest from franchises.
The 2018 season may have been a forgettable one, with only 80 runs and 3 wickets from 9 matches, but a career IPL strike rate of 126.56 and economy rate of 7.52 is the kind of combination that attracts auction-eyeballs.
Patel, in fact, could ever-so-easily have been part of the Indian setup at the moment. He was originally part of the Asia Cup squad – only for injury to strike, and Ravindra Jadeja to replace him with a burst of form which rules a second successive World Cup berth an unlikely eventuality.
IPL: Shami’s Route to Late Surge for WC Berth
Like Patel, Mohammed Shami too was present at the 2015 World Cup: even scalping 17 wickets to finish fourth in the bowling charts for the tournament. Like Patel, Shami has a fight on his hands to be part of the Indian setup in England next summer.
Having hovered around the back-up fast-bowling options pack for the last couple of years, the Test-match regular blew a chance to fast-track himself into ODI plans with an ordinary showing in the recent series against Windies. Even young Khaleel Ahmed has now overtaken Shami in the pecking order.
Now shown the door by Delhi Daredevils, the 28-year-old will be desperate to get a final selection showdown via the IPL. But insipid T20 form and an ever-burgeoning pool of upcoming domestic pacers make Shami far from a sure-shot to find a new team.
Unadkat’s Fall From Riches to Rags
In January this year, Jaydev Unadkat became the most expensive Indian buy at the IPL 2018 auction – the Rs 11.5 crore shelled out by Rajasthan Royals putting him second only to Yuvraj Singh in terms of all-time IPL pay-days for Indians. Less than ten months later, he finds himself without a team to play for.
The cost-benefit ratio he presented would’ve left the Royals smarting: Unadkat’s 11 wickets, in 15 matches, came while conceding nearly ten runs per over. But his ouster is probably a short-lived one, and more realistically a cost-correction.
The left-arm pacer was second-from-top in the bowling charts at IPL 2017 with 24 wickets for Rising Pune Supergiant, and has thereby had a three-year association with Rajasthan skipper Ajinkya Rahane.
Unadkat also bounced back from this year’s poor IPL with a rich haul of 16 wickets from eight Vijay Hazare Trophy matches. Don’t be surprised if he lands back in the Royals’ den.
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