The 11th edition of the high-octane Indian Premier League will see two former franchises making a comeback after a two-year hiatus. As a result, the mega-auction of the IPL was one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year.
While the return of MS Dhoni and his comrades making their way back into the yellow jersey caused a frenzy among the avid fans, it was Rajasthan Royals who headlined the event with top two exorbitant bids during the two-day event.
The Royals acquired the services of Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat for whopping amounts of INR 12.5 and 11.5 crores, respectively. It appears as a pure contradiction of their strategies during the previous editions of the tournament. Historically, the Royals were known to purchase smart foreign buys and investing in their youngsters.
However, the Royals co-owner, Manoj Badale believes the franchise is also looking at the future development, with their massive bid for Ben Stokes even though the availability of Stokes is uncertain given the pending hearing of the much-publicised pub brawl incident in Bristol.
“We have not just bought Ben Stokes for this season but for the future development of the franchise. We were fully aware of his trial, but we cannot worry about the outcome of things that we can’t control,” affirmed Manoj Badale according to Hindustan Times.
During the second day of the auction, Saurashtra pacer Jaydev Unadkat hogged all limelight after going for 38 times his base price of 30 lakhs, thanks to his unique skill set which earned him the purple cap last season. The Royals are equally excited about Unadkat in their arsenal.
“We are excited by both players (Stokes and Unadkat) joining the Royals. Both bring unique skills, and also create a unique balance. The fact that they were costly simply confirms that other teams see their value as well,” added Manoj on Unadkat.
After involvement in spot-fixing and betting charges, the two franchises – RR and CSK were relegated from the league back in 2015. Three players from the Royals squad – S Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila were arrested after involvement in spot-fixing. Badale, later, expressed his frustration on missing out of the tournament.
“It is sad that two separate incidents, which were two years apart, one of spot-fixing by three players, and one of alleged betting by a minority shareholder (Raj Kundra) get conflated to create a more negative perception than the real merits. That said, we can only expect to be judged by our actions and we will continue to run the franchise as we have done since 2008, with the utmost professionalism. It was frustrating to miss a tournament, which has so much excitement,” concluded Manoj Badale.