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Why this run-machine was ignored at the IPL auction!

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: February 08, 2016 14:17 IST
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He was on the Marquee List. His base price was a meagre Rs 50 lakh. Yet batting sensation Martin Guptill failed to find a buyer at the IPL auction. Harish Kotian/ reports.

Martin Guptill

IMAGE: Martin Guptill, one of the most dashing batsmen in the world today. Photograph: Martin Hunter/Getty Images

Uncapped Pawan Negi's sale to the Delhi Daredevils for a massive Rs 8.5 crore (Rs 85 million) raised as many eyebrows as the snub to New Zealand's in-form opener Martin Guptill at the IPL Players Auction in Bengaluru on Saturday, January 6.

One of the world's best batsmen in the limited overs format, Guptill has been in the form of his life in the last 12 months since the 2015 World Cup in which he hit a double century, an amazing 237 not out against the West Indies in Wellington to create the record for the highest score in World Cup history.

In the last 12 months, he has scored more than 1,000 runs across all formats at an average of 65 during New Zealand's matches at home this summer.

He has been unstoppable in T20 cricket. In his last six innings in T20 internationals, the right-hander has smashed four half centuries, at a very healthy strike rate -- 60 from 35 balls, 58 from 34 balls and 63 from 25 balls against Sri Lanka; 87 not out from 58 balls and 42 from 19 balls against Pakistan.

Going into the IPL auction, Guptill had two centuries and four fifties in ten innings in ODIs, which included quickfire knocks of 79 from 56 balls and 93 not out from 30 balls against Sri Lanka in December and a 76-ball 90 against Australia in Auckland last week.

The IPL organisers knew his worth and placed the Kiwi opener in the Marquee List which included the likes of Shane Watson, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Kevin Pietersen and Dale Steyn among others.

Guptill quoted a modest base price of Rs 50 lakh despite being in the Marquee List, fully aware that he was not picked up by any franchise last year.

Inexplicably, the 29 year old was snubbed again by all eight franchises.

Given the unpredictability of the IPL auction over the years, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact easons why Guptill went unsold.

One reason could be that all eight teams had more or less established their top order going into the auction including the two new teams -- the Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants, who bagged their top five players through the IPL Players Draft in December.

What could also have gone against Guptill was his track record in India. There was not much of a record to fall back on.

Guptill has not played an ODI in India in the last five years. His last appearance on Indian soil was during the 2011 World Cup, when he hit just one half-century (86 not out versus Zimbabwe) in five innings.

In T20 cricket, a demand for an all-rounder is more than for a specialist batsman or bowler which explains the ridiculous amount paid to some uncapped Indian players.

Only if Guptill could chip in with a few overs of part-time bowling, be it spin or medium pace, one feels he could have attracted the attention of a franchise or two if not more.

'If I owned a team I would have picked Guptill. He's playing amazing cricket at the moment and he's a world class player, certainly in the white ball format,' Kiwi batsman Kane Williamson, who was not part of the auction, having been retained from last year's IPL by the Sunrisers Hyderabad, said.

The big chance for Guptill to make his IPL breakthrough could be at the World T20 in India in March-April, where if he does well with the bat, it could be a big slap for all the IPL teams. He could end up with a few million dollars next year.

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Harish Kotian /

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