Indian Premier League is back and it will be the eleventh season of the marquee T20 tournament. Before every IPL, the auction takes place to finalise squads (this year it was mega auction) and auctions are like the lottery, you win some, you lose some. International superstars eagerly wait for their name to be called up during the auction and how much they have earned and which team they will represent.
On one hand, you had England’s maverick all-rounder Ben Stokes going for mind-boggling sum of Rs 12.50 crore (highest paid) closely followed by Indian seamer Jaydev Unadkat (Rs 11.50 crore). But, IPL auctions don’t follow any rules or pattern and many accomplished and pedigree cricketers went unsold.
Here’s a list of marquee players finding no takers during IPL 2018
1. Lasith Malinga:
Sri Lankan ace pacer Lasith Malinga received the biggest jolt of his professional career when he wasn’t picked during this year’s auction. Malinga’s name is synonymous with T20 cricket and is IPL’s leading wicket-taker (154 wickets in 110 matches). The slinga Malinga has played a huge role in Mumbai Indians success over the years (2013, 2015, 2017) and his absence will definitely be a huge setback for the fans. Malinga’s form and fitness over the last 18 months has not been great and many franchises were reluctant to pick him because of that. As a consolation prize, Malinga will be Mumbai Indians’ bowling mentor, but his expertise in slow ball bouncers, toe-crushing yorkers and sheer wicket-taking ability will be missed.
2. Joe Root:
England’s baby face Test captain Joe Root is currently one of the finest players in world cricket currently and his name gets taken in the same breath as Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, and Kane Williamson. Root despite being a fine player in Test cricket and ODI cricket has not played much T20 cricket generally (strike rate of 125.59 in all T20 cricket). Root has not taken T20 cricket by storm and that was one of the reasons for his non-inclusion. England’s leading batsman is still proving himself in T20 cricket, but his snub was still hard to follow considering his versatile batting and also could chip in as captain if required.
3. James Faulkner:
Cricket is a great leveller and who would have thought ICC 2015 World Cup final’s player of the match i.e. James Faulkner would find no takers in the auction. Faulkner burst on to the scene with his aggressive batting, bowling variations and overall a complete package in the T20 format. Faulkner has been struggling with form and fitness over the last couple of years and his absence from the Australian team didn’t help his cause too.
4. Martin Guptill:
New Zealand’s swashbuckling and talisman cricketer Martin Guptill also went unsold during the mega-auction. Guptill is a powerhouse T20 player and is a big hitter of a cricket ball and his absence raised quite a few eyebrows. One reason could be all the teams are already settled with their opening players and also Guptill’s mediocre IPL record. But still not choosing a box-office T20 player is a little hard to understand and that is how auction dynamics work.
5. Irfan Pathan:
Not too long ago, Irfan Pathan had taken a Test hat-trick against Pakistan, was player of the match in 2007 World T20 final vs Pakistan and was India’s next Kapil Dev in the making. Life is not fair and Pathan got a reality check with not being picked for the cash-rich league. Franchises have been cautious and guarded with Pathan’s form and his performance in the domestic season wasn’t that great. Pathan at his best can be a good utility player and his absence proves the point that form matters.
6. Eoin Morgan:
The man responsible for England’s rejuvenation in ODI and T20 format also went unsold. Morgan, captain of England’s limited overs sides has been an IPL regular since 2010 but has not had a stellar last season for Sunrisers Hyderabad. IPL is a cut-throat competition and your reputation doesn’t count for much (has played for RCB, KKR, SRH, KXIP). Morgan at best is a match winner but has flattered to deceive (internationally as well as T20 leagues) and that’s why there will be no Irish fireworks during IPL 2018.
7. Hashim Amla:
Hashim Amla’s non-selection has to be the biggest shock after Lasith Malinga’s absence and how IPL teams select their teams is a million dollar question? Amla played superbly for Kings XI Punjab last season (two hundreds, both in losing cause) and was their star player ahead of T20 wizards such as Glenn Maxwell and David Miller and his snub is little hard to fathom. Amla might not be your typical T20 blaster, but has great game sense and his performance last season was quite good.
8. Dale Steyn:
South Africa’s pace legend Dale Steyn is battling fitness concerns over the past 24 months and was predictably not picked. Steyn in his prime was a match winner and in previous IPL seasons has led the attack really well for Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad and was a marquee player. Still, the absence of Steyn will rob fans of his fiery eyes and aggression and his non-inclusion tells us that time and tide waits for none.
9. Shaun Marsh:
Australian Shaun Marsh also got a rude wake-up call and was not picked during the mega-auction. Marsh had lit up the first IPL in 2008 playing for Preity Zinta’s Kings XI Punjab had won the Orange cap (leading run scorer, 616 runs). Again Marsh’s form had been shaky and with competition rising, it was quite expected. On his day, Marsh could terrorise any bowling attack and his T20 numbers are quite good.
10. Darren Sammy:
West Indian star and calypso king Darren Sammy also got the boot during this year’s auction and his absence will surely affect IPL’s glamour quotient. Sammy, two time World T20 winning captain (2012, 2016) might be out of favour with Windies but is still a match winner in this fast paced format. Sammy has been a regular feature in various T20 leagues around the world and the energy and passion he brings will be missed and in addition, has experience of captaincy and leadership.