The 2016 Indian Premier League season took a step closer on Saturday, when the full squads were revealed for all eight teams following the annual auction in Bangalore. With two new teams entering the fray for this season’s Twenty20 cricket spectacle, the bidding process for those players still on the shelf was eagerly anticipated.
After last year’s runner-up Chennai Super Kings, as well as Rajasthan Royals, were suspended from the IPL for two years on charges of illegal betting and spot-fixing, franchises were awarded to Pune and Rajkot. And it was a former Rajasthan player who became the most expensive buy in this year’s auction. Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, who just last month struck a century in the final Twenty20 international against India, was sold to Royal Challengers Bangalore for a massive $1.4 million, five times his base price.
In Bangalore he will join an already star-studded cast, including India Test captain Virat Kohli, South Africa skipper AB de Villiers and the world’s most renowned exponent of the T20 game, West Indian Chris Gayle.
The biggest story of the auction, though, concerned the uncapped Indian all-rounder Pawan Negi. Just 24 hours after being included in India’s squads for the upcoming Asia Cup and World T20, the 23-year-old, who previously represented Chennai, became a millionaire when being snapped up by Delhi Daredevils for $1.27 million. In doing so, he became the most lucrative Indian in the auction, surpassing fellow million-maker Yuvraj Singh, who went to Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Mohit Sharma, who will turn out for Kings XI Punjab when the IPL season gets underway on April 9.
As well as Watson, Negi and Yuvraj, the fourth million-dollar man at the auction was surprisingly South African all-rounder Chris Morris. The 28-year-old, who has previously turned out for Chennai Super Kings, will join Negi in Delhi after being bought for seven times his base price, at a little over $1 million.
There were some surprises too in the list of players who went unsold. While Australia opening batsman Aaron Finch did get sold to Rajot franchise Gujarat Lions, Martin Guptill, who has recently been in fine form with the bat for New Zealand, and Usman Khawaja, who just made his T20I debut for Australia, were left on the shelf.
Newcomer Rising Pune Super Giants did flex their muscles, spending big to land Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh as well as unheralded Indian spinner Murugan Ashwin. One-time England international and veteran IPL man Kevin Pietersen was another player to be snapped up by Pune. The trio join a list of player in Pune that already includes India limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Australia Test and one-day international skipper Steve Smith.
The ninth season of IPL will see all eight teams play each other twice in a round-robin format, before the top four go onto the playoffs where they will compete to land the trophy in the final on May 29.
IPL 2016 Team and players (listed in descending order of salary)
Royal Challengers Bangalore
AB de Villiers
Kolkata Knight Riders
Shakib Al Hasan
Manan Ajay Sharma
Quinton de Kock
Kings XI Punjab
Marchant de Lange
Rising Pune Warriors
Faf du Plessis
Rudra Pratap Singh