Varun Chakravarti, the lead story of the Indian Premier League Auction earlier this month, will primarily be among the reserve for Kings XI Punjab. Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin going to be the obvious first choice.
Then, what makes the Tamil Nadu spinner a more precious commodity that the tried, trusted and proven Ashwin! What forcer the Kings XI Punjab think tank to make a ₹ 8.4 crore bid for the unheralded bower, while skipper Ashwin gets only ₹ 7.6 crore.
Chakravarthy’s ₹8.4 crore is an IPL Moneyball record for an capped players. His Kings XI Punjab skipper and Tamil Nadu Statemate, Ashwin as per the IPL Moneyball records had a mere ₹ 12 lakh annual contract for his first three years with the Chennai Super Kings.
This has been the obvious and most intriguing question ever since the IPL Auction in Jaipur on December 18. “Underexposed mystery bowler” is the USP that has put premium on the unheralded talent from Tamil Nadu, who has earned respect and value by bowling to the Chennai Super Kings at nets.
“The long-term investment” during his first season in the IPL will only remain a “back-up spinner” for skipper Ashwin, the Kings XI Punjab co-owner Preity Zinta has confirmed to PTI.
“Varun is an underexposed mystery bowler along with being a back-up spinner who will add value to the team. Kings XI Punjab has always wanted to give chance to untested talent and Varun is a long term investment for us,” Preity had told PTI in an e-mail interview.
“I feel that with guidance from coach Mike Hesson, he (Varun) will be able to hone his capabilities and contribute to team’s success,” says the celebrity team owner. She was happy that Kings XI were able to pick players whom the management thought could be the missing link from the last edition.
“We opted a thought through strategy for the 2019 VIVO Indian Premier League auctions. We wanted to pick up players that could fill in the missing gaps and create a remarkable team line-up. I believe that we have a balanced side now with a lot of good options in our kitty in case of requirements during the season,” Preity added.
Teenagers like Prabh Simran Singh has landed a cool ₹1.5 crore contract even before playing a single Ranji Trophy match but Preity believes that if someone is talented, he should be backed. “At the Kings XI Punjab, we have always believed in providing opportunity to domestic talent and Prabh Simran is the new star on the horizon. The management team at KXIP does a background research before bidding for any player,” she reasoned.
She also spoke about the local connect which went a long way in bidding for Prabh Simran. “I personally feel that he is a local boy from Punjab and a talent to watch out for in future,” she added.
There is a possibility that IPL might shift to South Africa if the dates clash with that of general elections but her team is ready for any eventuality. “We have faced such scenario in the past (2009 in SA and 2014 in UAE) and are adequately prepared for the upcoming season.
“The balance and constitution of the team is such that they can play in India or any other country with the same zeal and deliver outstanding results,” she signed off.