IPL Auction Analysis: Day One

110 mostly high-profile players were available on day one, with 78 (71%) being recruited across the eight IPL franchises.  

This leaves around 100 players, out of over 400, available to franchises on day two, and with this in mind, franchises have established the nucleus of their squad already.  

There were several evident themes surrounding the auction already, not to mention the fact that many franchises seemed utterly ill-prepared, often taking what seemed like an age to decide whether they wanted to bid or use a right to match card.  While this, no doubt, adds to the drama, it is truly incredible that teams have not assigned a ballpark value to a high-profile player, or what sort of price range they'd consider using right to match on a former player.

Firstly, with some notable exceptions, older players were far less popular, and this is unsurprising considering that players are effectively being purchased for a three-year period.  I am giving the teams more credit for understanding this, than understanding the age decline dynamic in more minute detail.  There was one particular franchise - Chennai Super Kings - who completely disregarded age though, and I'll discuss this later.  Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga were two big-name veteran players who failed to attract any interest at their base prices.

There were no takers for Chris Gayle on day one...

In addition, high strike-rate players have been in demand, although big prices were still paid for high-profile Indian batsmen who tend to be deficient in this regard.  Recruiting boundary hitters will get more and more popular in the coming years, and young players dreaming of future IPL contracts would do well to do everything in their power to try and get their T20 boundary percentage to the 20% mark or higher.  Franchises around the world still have work to do regarding wicket preservation, but there's signs that they're getting there, at least to some extent. 

The final obvious theme is that all-rounders have proven to be very popular.   Ben Stokes, Glenn Maxwell, Krunal Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Marcus Stoinis, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Shane Watson were all-rounders purchased for at least 4 Crore (400 Lakh) and the focus towards all-rounders makes for interesting discussion.

Yes, all-rounders offer teams option and balance, and that can only be a positive, but the inherent danger of all-rounders is that they are worse than either the average bowler and the average batsman, and several of these players above fall into that bracket.  Again, Chennai Super Kings' recruitment in particular is brought into question, with them deciding to pack their day one squad with all-rounders.

With each team having a budget of 80 Crore (800 Lakh), every team spent around 75% of their budget on day one.  Rajasthan Royals, with 23.5 crore (29.4%) of their budget left, have the biggest budget left, while Kolkata Knight Riders (7.6 crore) have the least amount to spend.  Given these obvious financial constraints on day two, expect there to be fewer bidding wars and expensively priced players.  With teams still to recruit around half their squad, the majority of signings will be of the budget variety, bringing into focus some of the better value lower-profile players with a low base price.

It's interesting to run through the squads so far, and try to analyse both their quality after day one, and also identify which areas they will need to focus their recruitment towards on day two:-

Rajasthan Royals (Budget Remaining 23.5 Crore):-

Batsmen: Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi, Steve Smith, D'Arcy Short
All-Rounders: Stuart Binny, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer
Wicket-Keepers: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson
Bowlers: None

A strange day for Rajasthan, who have the most money remaining for day two.  Their batting recruitment is a bit odd, with D'Arcy Short (4 Crore) an interesting purchase, and it will be interesting how teams try and deal with Short's relative weakness against spin bowling.  Stokes' price is expensive in my view, particularly considering availability concerns, but Jofra Archer is a player my numbers like, even with this being a big step up.

Another odd area of recruitment is getting two quality wicket-keeper/batsmen in Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson - it seems a waste of resources to spend 12.4 Crore on two wicket-keepers, particularly when they haven't signed any out and out bowlers, as yet.

Kings XI Punjab (Budget Remaining 21.9 Crore):-

Batsmen: David Miller, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Aaron Finch
All-Rounders: Ravichandran Ashwin, Marcus Stoinis, Yuvraj Singh, Axar Patel
Bowlers: Ankit Rajpoot

Not a bad first day for the Kings XI, who have jettisoned most of their previously under-performing squad, replacing them with players that generally my algorithm approves of. Batting-wise, their recruitment looks very strong, and they've already established a core top-order.  All-rounder recruitment has also gone well, including three domestic spin all-rounders, so they'll need to spend a large proportion of their day two budget on pace bowling depth, as well as a wicket-keeper.

Chennai Super Kings (Budget Remaining 17 Crore):-

Batsmen: Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina
All-Rounders: Kedar Jadhav, DJ Bravo, Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja
Wicket-Keepers: MS Dhoni
Bowlers: Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir

My losers in day one of the auction, CSK have adopted a strategy which is about as far from moneyball as it gets, selecting numerous players over the age of 30 - a very dangerous strategy for future seasons - as well as few players who can record a high batting boundary percentage or strike rate.

CSK also lack pace bowling options - only DJ Bravo is a decent seamer of the current squad - and need to have a vastly improved day two to avoid ending up with the worst squad, not just for IPL 2018 but future seasons as well.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (Budget Remaining 15.85 Crore):-

Batsmen: Brendon McCullum, Manan Vohra, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan
All-Rounders: Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali
Wicket-Keepers: Quinton de Kock
Bowlers: Kulwant Khejroliya, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini

A pretty decent day for RCB, who continue their trend towards packing their squad full of big names - Brendon McCullum joins Kohli and De Villiers as marquee batsmen - but with five quality overseas players already, it is clear that one of them at least (depending on their remaining recruitment) will have to miss out.  

RCB also had some reasonable domestic bowler recruitment, but will should be looking towards getting some further back-up in the shape of domestic batsmen and all-rounders.  Certainly with three overseas all-rounders already, they should look to boost their domestic options in this area.  

Mumbai Indians (Budget Remaining 15.8 Crore):-

Batsmen: Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma
All-Rounders: Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya
Wicket-Keepers: Ishan Kishan
Bowlers: Mustafizur Rahman, Pat Cummins, Jasprit Bumrah

Have only purchased nine players but it's hard to be in too much disagreement with many - except Suryakumar Yadav.  However, with an average price of just over 1 Crore left for each of their day two signings, it will be interesting to see Mumbai's strategy - do they go for four or five further quality players, or try and add equal levels of depth.  Certainly, from a batting perspective, they could do with some more numbers,

Delhi Daredevils (Budget Remaining 12.3 Crore):-

Batsmen: Prithvi Shaw, Gautam Gambhir, Jason Roy, Shreyas Iyer
All-Rounders: Colin Munro, Glenn Maxwell, Harshal Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankhar, Chris Morris
Wicket-Keeper: Rishabh Pant
Bowlers: Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Kagiso Rabada, Avesh Khan

Mixed emotions for Delhi on day one.  The positives for them is that they have been able to achieve a ton of success in recruiting quality batsmen, with most of their all-rounders, as well as wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, capable of batting in the top six.  My concern with some of these batsmen, however, would be strike rate, and a lot of responsibility will come to the likes of Munro, Maxwell and Morris to score heavily in the latter stages of innings.

Bowling-wise, Delhi need improvement on day two.  Mishra is a solid signing, and so is Rabada (although I think there are better options), but Mohammed Shami is a signing that I'm not a fan of, which him having the propensity to leak runs.  

Sunrisers Hyderabad (Budget Remaining 7.95 Crore):-

Batsmen: Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Ricky Bhui, David Warner
All-Rounders: Yusuf Pathan, Carlos Brathwaite, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan
Wicket-Keepers: Wriddhiman Saha
Bowlers: Siddarth Kaul, Basil Thampi, Rashid Khan, Tharangasu Natarajan, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar

A strange strategy adopted so far from Sunrisers, who have signed largely experienced batsmen with mediocre strike rates and boundary percentages, with the obvious exception of the retained David Warner.  Ricky Bhui, who hasn't generally scored quickly in lower-level T20, looks a bizarre signing, too. 

Apart from Carlos Brathwaite, don't expect much different from the all-rounders or keeper, Wriddhiman Saha, who looks expensive at 5 Crore, particularly as the better batsman of the bigger-name wicket-keepers, Parthiv Patel, went unsold.

However, bowling wise, they have real quality via Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, although some of their fringe domestic bowlers don't look anything special, looking at my data.

Will need to use their remaining budget on some further bowling additions, and ideally a few batsmen who can score quickly.

Kolkata Knight Riders (Budget Remaining 7.6 Crore):-

Batsmen: Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Chris Lynn
All-Rounders: Nitish Rana, Andre Russell
Wicket-Keepers: Robin Uthappa
Bowlers: Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Mitchell Starc, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine

Probably my winners on the opening day, with pretty much every player signed liked by my algorithm.  KKR have had a clear strategy regarding recruitment of proven high strike rate batsmen who are boundary hitters, while also recruiting the cream of young Indian talent in Shubman Gill and Kamlesh Nagarkoti - two players my algorithm likes a lot.  

The only worry for KKR is the injury concerns over Chris Lynn and Mitchell Starc, not to mention the long-term absence of Andre Russell.  Focus tomorrow should be given to getting decent overseas back-up for these star players, and also boosting their batting and all-rounder depth.

With teams still with plenty to do on day two, it will be fascinating to see how they go about their business.  Budgets will be tight, with a lot of lower-profile players likely to be signed.  Day two will prove to be a real test of which franchises have done their homework...