I will desist from talking about the play-offs. Everyone is writing about them. Methinks there is other interesting stuff, however, to talk about.
I have often been asked about the Return on Investment (RoI) on players for various franchises. Most calls are usually good. Some bets can go seriously wrong, though. Let us look at this year itself. Interesting cases abound.
Jaydev Unadkat, for example, has had a miserable IPL. The bowler, who was trolled by Virender Sehwag a month ago for the price the Rajasthan Royals paid for him … Rs. 11.5 crore in 2018, Rs. 8.4 crore in 2019 and Rs. 3 crore this year, just didn’t perform. Unadkat had become a prize catch after his 24 wickets haul in the 2017 IPL, raising high hopes, and his bid price. In 2018, he netted only 11 wickets; in 2019 this number dwindled to 10. It is down to 4 wickets this year: Rs. 75 lacs a wicket! The writing is on the wall for poor Unadkat.
Robin Uthappa, also picked up for Rs. three crore by Rajasthan Royals, has mustered just 196 runs in 12 outings this IPL. The 1985 born Uthappa was at his peak in 2014 when he amassed 660 runs. After that his performances every year have been kind of lukewarm. This year the aggregate has plummeted even further. May be difficult for Uthappa to find a meaningful bidder next year. A similar fate perhaps awaits Ankit Rajpoot, another Rajasthan player. Bought for Rs. three crore, Rajpoot has delivered just two wickets: at Rs. 1.5 crore a wicket! IPL 2018 was Rajpoot’s best year with an 11-wickets haul that year. It has been downhill ever since. To be not unfair to just our desi players, Rajasthan Royal’s pick Tom Curran from England too was a disaster. A total of just 83 runs in the five matches he played, and just three wickets as a bowler. The only consolation could be that at least he cost only Rs. 1 crore! But I don’t think he is coming back next year.
For CSK, another of the teams headed home, Murali Vijay was a laggard performer. The 36-years old was picked at Rs. two crore, but delivered just 32 runs in three matches. Vijay played well in 2016, scoring 453 runs, with equally good peaks in 2010 and 2011. But it seems this will most likely be his last IPL. Kedar Jadhav, also from the CSK camp, was bid for Rs. 7.8 crore but scored a mere 62 runs in eight outings. The chubby Piyush Chawla, a yellow jersey CSK man, bagged at Rs. 6.8 crore, also failed miserably netting just six wickets in seven matches. That works out to almost Rs. 1 crore a wicket! Chawla has never really performed to potential. His best years have been 2008 (17 wickets), 16 wickets each in 2011 and 2012, and 14 wickets in 2018. Shane Watson has finally called it a day. But not before pocketing Rs. four crore for the current IPL from CSK, and scoring an under par 299.
Captain Dhoni at Rs. 15 crore has delivered only 200 runs this year for CSK from 14 matches. Over the years, his paycheques have totaled Rs. 137.8 crore! (For those who may want to know, Rohit Sharma is not far behind with earnings of Rs. 131.6 crore while Virat Kohli has pocketed Rs. 126.2 crore in the 13 years of the IPL).
Other franchises to have made costly mistakes. King’s XI’s Glenn Maxwell was paid Rs. 10.75 crore for a paltry 102 runs in 12 games this year; Sheldon Cottrell, also an expensive buy at Rs. 8.8 crore just got six wickets in six matches. Karun Nair bought at a steep Rs. 5.6 crore has scored a piffling 16 runs! Krishnathappa Gowtham was no better. Bought for Rs. 6.2 crore, he delivered a meager 42 runs to the King’s franchise!
RCB paid Pawan Negi a crore of rupees but didn’t hand him the ball all season. Star batsman Ajinkya Rahane, bought by Delhi for a not-so-cheap Rs. 5.25 crore, has been in very poor form contributing a mere 111 runs in Dubai.
I could go on and on. But suffice it to say that potential and talent can sometimes fall short seriously. However, sometimes you can also hit pay dirt. Devdutt Padikkal, the Kerala lad bought for a pitsy Rs. 20 lacs by RCB has scored an impressive 472 runs on debut, without taking into account his match of last night versus SRH. He made an emphatic statement when he became the only player in IPL history to score three fifties in his first four games. Padikkal was part of Royal Challengers’ roster in 2019, too, but he didn’t play a single game. The elegant southpaw finished the 2019-20 domestic season as the highest run-scorer in both the Vijay Hazare 50-over tournament and the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy. In the latter, the opener scored 580 runs at a strike rate of 175.75.So, the RCB pick was no fluke.
Mayank Aggarwal, bought by Punjab for Rs. one crore too has been worth all the money paid. With 424 runs in the 11 matches he played for the Kings, Aggarwal has delivered above-average RoI. He will surely have many more paddles going up for him next season and will take home a paycheque that is far more impressive.
Murugan Ashwin, bought by Punjab for just Rs. 20 lacs, has delivered 10 wickets, a very good return for the franchise. For Ashwin’s namesake, the old warhorse R. Ashwin though, with a price tag of Rs. 7.6 crores delivered only 13 wickets for Delhi. Ashwin hasn’t ever really excelled in the IPL with 20 wickets in 2011, his best haul.
In any case more relevantly for now, Mumbai are through to the Finals. Their sixth. Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, the pace aces took six of the eight wickets to fall as the defending champions beat Delhi Capitals by 57 runs on Thursday night. Boult, who finished with figures of 2 for 9, including a maiden from his two overs, was the chief demolisher dismissing Prithvi Shaw (0) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) in the first over, before Bumrah took over, sending back Shikhar Dhawan (0), Shreyas Iyer (12), Marcus Stoinis (65) and Daniel Sams (0) for figures of 4 for 14 from four overs, including a maiden. What a performance! In such wins, RoI is nothing short of exponential.
The Writer is an advertising and media veteran. He loves the game of cricket and is a treasure trove of the games’ statistics.