The eight teams in the cash-rich Indian Premier League spent almost $70 million at an auction for players ahead of the Twenty20 tournament, which starts in April.
The results showed a marked shift away from purchasing big-name foreign stars, in favour of up-and-coming players from India and elsewhere.
Here are five talking points:
While there were no bidders for England's Test and one-day captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, Kings XI Punjab paid $628,000 for Mujeeb Zadran, a 16-year-old spinner from Afghanistan. Mujeeb, the youngest player to be signed by an IPL team, was spotted by Indian scouts at the under-19 Asian Cup in Kuala Lumpur last November. Nepal will also get its first IPL player after 17-year-old leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane landed a $31,446 deal with Delhi Daredevils. One reason for the signings could be a desire to expand the IPL's fanbase in other South Asian countries. "We will have some new fans for IPL... I hope this will start a cricket revolution in Nepal," Delhi chief executive Hemant Dua said.
Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings are returning from two-year bans for illegal gambling. The Royals, who won the first IPL in 2008 under Shane Warne, turned out to be big spenders, shelling out $10.3 million for 23 players including the top two buys, Ben Stokes ($1.96m) and Jaydev Unadkat ($1.8m). They will be relying on the big names to lift their less exalted team-mates to success. But the conservative Super Kings, twice IPL champions, spent just $6.4 million in two days and did not make any of the top 10 purchases. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was retained as captain ahead of the auction. Their top buy, Kedar Jadav, who cost $1.2 million, could be a smart buy for his explosive batting and surprising off-spin. With reputations to restore, both teams will be in the spotlight on their return from scandal.
Jaydev Unadkat is not with the Indian Test or one day team touring South Africa, but he is one of the hottest T20 bowlers on the planet. Unadkat, player of the series in India's recent T20 games against Sri Lanka, went for $1.8 million to Rajasthan Royals, making the 26-year-old the second most expensive player behind Ben Stokes. Unadkat's deal also highlighted a tendency to pick Indian talent rather than foreign stars who may not perform well on Indian pitches. Batsmen Manish Pandey and Lokesh Rahul came third and fourth in the rankings, both costing about $1.7 million. Players with no experience in the national team also featured prominently: the Royals spent almost $1 million on uncapped off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham, and Krunal Pandya became the costliest uncapped buy when he went to Mumbai Indians for $1.38 million. "If we look at the history of IPL, teams which had a strong core group of Indian players have done well consistently," former India opener Wasim Jaffer wrote in The Times of India. TV pundit Dean Jones said: "They (the teams) all started to tell these (established) players that enough is enough. They are looking for the younger player."
Jofra Archer was one of the IPL auction sensations. The Rajasthan Royals paid $1.1 million for the all-rounder from Barbados who is seeking to qualify for England and has already made a name for himself with English county Sussex and for Hobart Hurricanes in Australia's Big Bash League. He has bowled at up to 150 kilometres (94 miles) an hour and made scintillating run-outs in the field. Archer, only 22, will not be eligible to play for England until 2022, ruling him out of the 2019 World Cup. But he is set to compete for the spotlight with Ben Stokes and the rest of the star-studded Royals team.
The weekend IPL auction, with 169 players bought for nearly $70 million, was the biggest in four years -- and could be the last. The previous three years witnessed featured more than 300 players in a one-day auction, compared to 581 over two days this year. Next year could see a shift to transfers between teams, and new signings within current limits of eight overseas players. IPL officials are also considering introducing a draft system. "This time we had this big auction after four years because we had two suspended teams for two years. So we extended the player regulations by one year and had this auction," IPL chief operating officer Hemang Amin told The Hindu newspaper. "Going forward the thinking is that we will not have this mega auction but will consider having a draft system for the new players which acts as a feeder system for the teams."