But prior to the start of the auction, IPL chairman Brijesh Patel announced the return of Chinese phone maker Vivo as the title sponsor. Vivo will take over from fantasy gaming app Dream 11, which had sponsored the 2020 edition after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) dropped Vivo because of a social media backlash against Chinese brands. Vivo declined to comment.
“Bringing back Vivo saves BCCI the hassle of re-tendering and possibly ending up with lesser sponsorship monies,” said Sandeep Goyal, chairman of Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based advertising agency.
In the players auction, Rajasthan Royals beat off Mumbai Indians to bag the South African for the 2021 edition being held in Chennai. Arjun Tendulkar, son of batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, made his IPL debut by joining Mumbai Indians at the base price of ₹20 lakh.
Morris beat Yuvraj Singh’s record as the most expensive player in the 2015 IPL auction when he was picked by the Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) for ₹16 crore. Not just that, he also surpassed Australian pacer Pat Cummins to become the most expensive overseas buy. Cummins was won by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for the 2020 edition at ₹15.50 crore.
The top five cricketers in the IPL 2021 auction were priced at between ₹9.25 crore and ₹16.25 crore.
The second and the third costliest players were grabbed by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which spent ₹29.25 crore on just two players. The second most prized player—New Zealand pacer Kyle Jamieson—was bought by RCB for ₹15 crore against bids by Punjab Kings (formerly Kings XI Punjab) and Delhi Capitals.
RCB also paid a whopping ₹14.25 crore for Aussie all-rounder Glenn Maxwell after bidding against Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Maxwell had been released by Punjab Kings.
Eight IPL teams bid for a pool of 292 cricketers at the IPL auction held in Chennai on Thursday. According to IPL rules, while the franchises could not spend more than their allotted purse, they had to spend at least 75% of the money available to them. Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers went in with the most amount of money as they had released several of their players.
An IPL team can have a maximum of eight foreign players and 17 Indian players. While the highest base price of players for the auction was ₹2 crore, the lowest was ₹20 lakh.
Aussie fast bowler Jhye Richardson was the fourth most expensive pick of IPL 2021 and went to Punjab Kings for a steep ₹14 crore from a base price of ₹1.5 crore.
That’s not all. Karnataka’s spin-bowler, all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham, also broke the record for the highest-priced uncapped player at ₹9.25 crore. He was picked up by Chennai Super Kings.
BCCI is likely to hold the 14th season of IPL T20 tournament in India in April-May. The venue could change if covid cases surge.
“IPL is recession-proof and has always been so. In any case, all the franchises have a fixed purse and need to spend 75% of that money. Some of today’s bids defy logic and whether some of these players are justified at these prices is a million-dollar question that can be answered only by their performance on the ground,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director, Baseline Ventures, a sports marketing and brand licensing firm.
Some of the players are sold for the aura around them, he said, adding that on paper almost all the teams look similar and look good—but not all of them are able to perform equally well.
Another Aussie pace bowler, Riley Meredith, was picked up by Punjab Kings for ₹8 crore.
The 33-year-old English all-rounder Moeen Ali was sold to CSK for ₹7 crore. The left-handed batsman, who had a base price of ₹3.5 crore, has played three seasons of IPL. Australia’s Nathan Mitchell Coulter-Nile, who made his IPL debut in 2013, went to Mumbai Indians for ₹5 crore. In the last auction Nile was picked up by Mumbai Indians for ₹8 crore.
“The narrative for this auction is not the high prices. It is money at their disposal, which the franchises spend in filling up their need-gaps. It is a matter of demand and supply,” said a sports marketing specialist, declining to be named.
“The big stories this season are those of Gowtham and Shahrukh Khan,” he said. Batsman Khan was bought by Punjab Kings for ₹5.25 crore on the back of an impressive performance in a domestic tournament. “These are the stories of untapped potential for this edition,” he added.
Lata Jha and Suneera Tandon contributed to the story.