The IPL 2021 auction turned out to be a major success for some franchisees who were eyeing to pick the ideal talents to fine-tune their squads ahead of the tournament.
While there were a few cricketers who went for record buys in the auction history, there were some who went unsold in spite of their experience at the shortest format. Interestingly, there was a section of cricketers who got the backing of the franchises to an extent of being termed as surprise buys for the upcoming season.
Here are some of the surprise picks from IPL 2021 auction –
Riley Meredith (Rs 8 crore to Punjab Kings)
An exciting prospect for Hobart Hurricanes in BBL 2020-21, it was expected to some extent that the right-arm speedster might be bought at the auction but no one could have predicted at the final price. Starting at his base price of Rs 40 lakh, the 24-year-old Hobart-born was in contention from Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings to be roped into their sides, as both franchises needed a quality overseas pacer in their armory, more so the latter, considering they went in the mini auction with over 50 crores in their purse.
Punjab Kings eventually gained the upper hand but not before they spent a galloping amount of Rs 8 crore, on someone who hasn’t played in an IPL edition before. Averaging 24.62 in 13 BBL matches played this season, Meredith, bagged 16 wickets while bowling at an economy rate of 7.82. He’s a wicket-taking bowler who bowls majorly in the powerplay. With the bowling variations he possesses, he could solve the franchise’s issue in affecting early dismissals.
Marco Janson (Rs 20 lakh to Mumbai Indians)
Little to none is known about the 20-year-old South African cricketer who went on to be picked by 5-time champions Mumbai Indians at his base price of Rs 20 lakh. Zaheer Khan, who has been the Director of Cricket Operations at the franchise since 2019, mentioned that they were a bit surprised to see no other team bidding for the bowling all-rounder. MI’s international scouting program had been keeping an eye on the youngster for the last two years. He was a part of the South African squad for the 2-match Test series against Pakistan, and with the national skipper Quinton de Kock vouching for the youngster’s prowess, he was eventually roped by the franchise in this year’s auction.
In 12 First-Class matches played to date, Marco has scalped 52 wickets while averaging a mere 20.51, with 3 four-fors and 4 five-fors and best figures of 5/53. He holds 16 wickets in 13 List-A appearances and has batted on a few occasions in this format, scoring 112 runs at a strike rate close to 100 and an average of 37.33.
Marco was indeed a surprise pick in the IPL 2021 auction considering he has made just 4 T20 appearances and now, he has to prove his mettle at the big stage.
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Cheteshwar Pujara (Rs 50 lakh to Chennai Super Kings)
A move that caught the entire cricket fraternity by surprise on Thursday was when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) bid for Pujara among their six buys in the auction. The right-hander had shown interest to compete in the power-packed tournament ahead of the auctions and was finalized among the 298 cricketers going down the hammer. While no other team bid for the Test specialist, he was eventually picked by the Men in Yellow at his base price of Rs 50 lakh.
He holds a hundred in the shortest format, a feat he achieved in the 2018-19 season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he struck an unbeaten 61-ball 100 with 14 fours and six against Railways to guide Saurashtra to 188 runs in 20 overs.
As far as his IPL numbers are concerned, he last played way back in 2014 for the Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings), where he amassed 125 runs in 6 innings, with a top-score of 40. Other than the Punjab-based franchise, the Saurashtra cricketer has been a part of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Overall, he has scored 390 runs in 29 matches at an average of 20.53 in the cash-rich tournament. Arguably, one of the major surprising picks during the IPL 2021 auction.
Shahrukh Khan (Rs 5.25 crore to Punjab Kings)
The uncapped middle-order batsman took over the auction table by storm when he was bought by CSK for a whopping Rs 5.25 crore at a base price of Rs 20 Lakh. He was initially involved in the bidding wars between RCB and DC but Punjab Kings (PBSK) joined in at just the right moment, and eventually got hands onto the cricketer.
The right-hander plays for Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket and while he has competed in 31 T20s to amass 293 runs, one could attribute his heroics with the bat in the clutch-moments in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21 to have played a major role in him garnering spotlight during the auction.
In the second quarter-final against Himachal Pradesh, he came out to bat when Tamil Nadu’s scorecard read 66/5 and they required 68 runs off 42 deliveries. Shahrukh ran a few singles before accelerating his innings with two consecutive fours in the 15th over to bring the equation to 39 runs of 30 deliveries. He then shot an array of fours and sixes in the next two overs, finishing with an unbeaten 40 off 19 deliveries studded with 5 fours and 2 sixes to chase down 136 runs with 13 balls to spare, to power Tamil Nadu into the semi-finals.
His finishing abilities were once again put to test in the finals against Baroda, where he hit a 7-ball 18* comprising 2 fours and a six to chase down a 136-run target and guide the Dinesh Karthik-led side to their second title to date.
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