The prelude to the Indian T20 League 2020 saw teams in a bidding war for their favourite players within their restricted budgets. With squads almost set for all the teams, the aim during the auction was to plug their weaknesses and find solutions. Here we look at some excellent purchases from the auction table in December.
Chris Lynn - Mumbai
T20s - 184, Runs - 5096, Avg - 32.66, SR - 144.15
The ferocious Australian top-order batsman was released by Kolkata during the build-up of the season. Kolkata had purchased him for a whopping fee of Rs 9.60 crores and letting him go was disturbing their core team. So, when he went back to the pool, it was assumed they would try and buy him back for a lower cost. However, at Rs 2 crore, Mumbai got him at base price. Being the first player to be sold, teams seemed hesitant to go after him and the defending champions had a fairly easy buy.
Chris Morris - Bangalore
T20s - 208, Runs - 1730, SR - 150.82, Wickets - 259, Eco - 7.81
The South African all-rounder is a much-sought-after commodity in T20 franchise leagues and when he went back to the auction pool, a big bidding war was expected for him. Teams bid vehemently for him at the auction table and Bangalore secured him for a whopping fee of Rs 10 crore. While the price is high, Morris adds death bowling value as well as an ability to win matches with the bat. For Bangalore at least, Morris is an excellent buy considering their lack of good death bowling options.
Tom Banton - Kolkata
T20s - 34, Runs - 944, Avg - 30.45, SR - 157.33
A highly-rated youngster from England, Somerset's Tom Banton was expected to create a big ripple in the auction after his exploits for Somerset and Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League. However, at a base price of Rs 1 crore, Kolkata were the only team to bid for Banton. The youngster was seen as a replacement for the Lynnsanity and will now play in violet and gold this season. That Banton's name came in the second half of the auction worked for Kolkata as most teams had exhausted their budget for top-order batters by then.
James Neesham - Punjab
T20s - 120, Runs - 1754, SR - 137.89, Wickets - 113, Catches - 40
James Neesham's stocks have risen in recent times for his ability to deliver under pressure. The New Zealand all-rounder has found his mojo in limited-overs cricket and is a pretty good ball-striker and a decent partnership breaker. Neesham has never had much of an impact in the tournament but has become a better all-rounder these days and as such, a single bid of Rs 50 lakh to secure his services was a bit of a surprise. Neesham will add to Punjab's firepower and will be a key replacement for someone like David Miller with his ability to turn games.
Dale Steyn - Bangalore
T20s - 220, Wickets - 256, Avg - 21.48, Eco - 6.75
Dale Steyn went unsold in the first round of the auctions and it worked in the favour of Bangalore, who bought him for his base price of Rs 2 crore in the final round. The South African pacer has had injury concerns of late, but having given up Test cricket, Steyn is focused on T20s and is shining in the format across T20 leagues.
Bangalore had also bought him in 2019 as a substitute, but he left after two matches. But this time around, Steyn returns leaner and fitter. He is in a good form of late, picking up 15 wickets from eight games for Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League, the third-best in the season.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar