The auctions for the tenth edition of the IPL were held on the 20th February 2017, where the eight existing franchises battled it out to grab their favourites from among local and overseas players. Volumes have already been written or spoken about the star-studded auctions and how they unfolded. In the normal course, now that we are well into the tenth edition of the IPL, with each Team having played at least a couple of matches, we wouldn’t have had to revisit what transpired at the auctions. A certain Team that goes by the name Gujarat Lions (GL), though, makes us talk about the auctions again. GL, as they are called, are incidentally the only team that’s still winless in the league stage. Not that they’ve played too many games; for now, they’ve played only two, but for those who watched the two games they’ve played so far, it’s easy to gauge what lies in store for the franchise. Yes, we know it’s IPL and it’s T20 Cricket. An inspired performance over the next couple of games by three or four of their players can quickly turn the tide in their favour. The return of Ravindra Jadeja will be a huge boost too. But the point here is, do they have the firepower to sustain this throughout the season? Especially their bowling attack!
Let’s take a look at what Gujarat bought during the auctions. It’s worth a mention that Gujarat eventually ended up buying the most number of players by any Team during the auctions – they bought eleven players – for also the least money spent by any Team at the auctions – 3.85 Crores. They were allowed to spent 14.35 Crores. Here’s who they bought –
1. Jason Roy (Batsman) – 1 Cr.
2. Basil Thampy (Bowler) – 85 lacs.
3. Manpreet Gony (Bowler) – 60 lacs.
4. Nathu Singh (Bowler) – 50 lacs.
5. Munaf Patel (Bowler) – 30 lacs.
6. Shubham Agrawal (All-rounder) – 10 lacs.
7. Tejas Singh Baroka (Bowler) – 10 lacs.
8. Chirag Suri (Batsman) – 10 lacs.
9. Pratham Singh (All-rounder) – 10 lacs.
10. Shelly Shaurya (Bowler) – 10 lacs.
11. Aksh Deep Nath (All-rounder) – 10 lacs.
One look at the squad and you can instantly tell where the problem lies – their bowling. Let’s talk about the GL vs KKR game. GL posted an imposing 183 / 4 off 20 overs. Jason Roy, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith and Ravindra Jadeja comprise a formidable batting lineup. Though, all of the overseas players in this lineup would prefer to open. This apart, when Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn walked, they should have been put under at least some sort of pressure, as it was KKR’s first game of the tournament too. Forget any anxiety, Gambhir and Lynn made a mockery of the target and cut it down within 14.5 overs, without the loss of any wicket. Agreed, Raina isn’t the most aggressive or interactive captain either. Yet, even the best of Captains would have had trouble juggling and rotating bowlers of an attack consisting Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Manpreet Gony, Shivil Kaushik, Dwayne Smith, Shadab Bashir Jakati.
Praveen Kumar has lost his swinging abilities a long time back. Still, he’s the best available bowling option for Gujarat. That’s how bad the bowling attack is. With his variations, Praveen Kumar can still be a force to reckon with. What about Manpreet Gony? He was never a good bowler. He has never been a bowler who can create inroads with his pace. He has no variations as well. Dhawal Kulkarni looked witty a couple of seasons ago but seems to have lost his sheen now.
Shivil Kaushik has been bowling poor line and lengths and his approach has been as clumsy as his action. Dwayne Smith and Jakati complete what’s nothing more than a poor bowling attack. Basil Thampy, perhaps, is the best buy since he at least has a great domestic season behind him. Apart from Thampy and Gony, no other bowler purchased during the auctions has had a game till now, and it’ll probably stay that way. Munaf Patel was bought for thirty lacs and more than anything else, it’s Munaf’s price that says it all – he simply hasn’t played too much of Cricket over the last three seasons.
Considering all of this, we are surprised why Gujarat went on the way they did during the auctions. The fact that the bowling attack they played against the KKR is the best combination they had (in the absence of R Jadeja) speaks how bad the bowling unit is. Even after Jadeja joins, we don’t think that’ll make a world of difference since Jadeja, at best, can contain the opposition. He cannot run into batting line-ups like a rash, like he normally does in Test Cricket where wickets assist spin.
It’s hard to imagine why Gujarat didn’t go for a top-notch pacer or an all-rounder when they obviously don’t seem to have any. At best, someone like Basil Thampi or Pavan Kumar can play a reasonable second fiddle. They surely can’t lead a bowling attack. Even someone like Irfan Pathan would have been a smart buy along with Ishant Sharma who anyway went unsold. With 10.30 Crores left, Gujarat could have chased any of the world-class pacers available for a grab. It’s seriously difficult to anticipate what prompted Gujarat to go the way they did. On the team management’s part, I’m sure it will be inexplicable.