18th December 2018, Jaipur. The date and place are set when the attention of all the top cricketers and media houses will be concentrated on the proceedings inside a small venue. The IPL auction has always been an event that has been keenly followed by all. Over the years, it has produced moments of drama, desperation, glory, and rejections.
Kolkata Knight Riders remain the franchise which has inevitably attracted eyeballs at the auction. With the Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan at the helm, they have never fallen short on the glamour quotient. One can not forget Shah Rukh Khan presenting the Golden warrior helmets to his players in a ceremony.
KKR has been extravagant in spending after the player of their choice. Over the years, they have splurged money after speed, mystery, and glamour. The Knight Riders ensured the services of Shoaib Akhtar, Ishant Sharma, Shane Bond, Ajantha Mendis, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell which came at an exorbitant price.
Tracking back, here are the six instances when KKR went overboard to secure a player.
#6 Mitchell Starc - 2018 (Base price: 2 Crores, Bought at: 9.4 Crores)
The ferocious Australian left-arm pacer is renowned for his tremendous skill of landing the ball in batsman’s blindspot. Mitchell Starc stole the show in 2015 World Cup by becoming the Player of the Tournament. No wonder, the Knight Riders were extremely impressed by his runaway speed and bamboozling lateral movement.
Mitchell Starc was drafted in the IPL Auction 2018. His base price was set at two crores. The bowler caused a bidding war between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders. The hammer eventually settled down in favor of KKR and they purchased the Australian fast bowler for a whopping price of 9.4 crores.
Unfortunately, Mitchell Starc was diagnosed with a ‘tibial bone stress’ in his right leg in March 2018 and was ruled out of the IPL. Despite spending such a huge chunk of their budget, KKR missed out on their spearhead pace bowler for the whole season. The franchise has released him for IPL 2019.
#5 Trent Boult - 2017 (Base price: 1.5 Crores, Bought at: 5 Crores)
Mitchell Starc had pulled himself out from the IPL 2017 Auction. The next shining star in Starc’s absence was New Zealand’s left-arm quick Trent Boult. Boult had previously been a part of Sunrisers Hyderabad, but he had featured rarely. His recent form in 2017 was superb as he had demonstrated with a spell of 2/8 in his four overs against Australia in a T20I.
Kolkata Knight Riders were eager to snap the left-arm quick and fetched him with all their might while waging a bidding war versus Mumbai Indians. Boult was bought for five Crores INR, and it made him the second-most expensive New Zealand player in IPL history. The bowler himself was surprised with the ‘surreal’ experience.
The association did not prove fruitful for both the parties, though. Boult played only six matches for KKR in the 2017 season and picked five wickets. After the solitary season for Kolkata, Boult spearheaded Delhi Daredevils in 2018.
#4 KC Cariappa - 2015 ( Base Price: 20 Lakh, Bought at: 2.4 Crores)
The IPL auction often throws out a few surprising moments. The franchises sometimes bid with their instinct and try to make a superstar from an unknown entity. The move backfires more often than not and such was the case of the mystery spinner, KC Cariappa.
The 20-year old legspinner impressed the KKR scouts with his performances in the Karnataka Premier League. Cariappa was subsequently called for trials and was earmarked as a buy for the upcoming auction. His leg-spin mixed with carrom ball was anticipated to be in line with the other mystery spinners such as Ajantha Mendis and Sunil Narine.
Kolkata Knight Riders bought Cariappa for 2.4 crores from his base price of 10 Lakhs. The move was puzzling and it became a social media sensation. However, Knight Riders played Cariappa in only one match and he was never picked after he dropped AB De Villiers’ catch in that game. The spinner later played for KXIP and went unsold in the 2018 IPL auction.
#3 Sachithra Senanayake - 2013 (Base Price: 50K Dollars, Bought at: 625K Dollars)
If there is one team obsessed with mystery spinners then it is Kolkata Knight Riders. Ajantha Mendis, Sunil Narine, KC Cariappa and Sachithra Senanayake prove the point. The Sri Lankan off-spinner was included in the auction at the behest of the coach Trevor Bayliss. The coach had observed Senanayake at the Big Bash League and was impressed by the bloke.
Kolkata Knight Riders went strongly after Sachithra Senanayake in the IPL auction of 2013. They bought him for a splendid price of 625 thousand dollars despite having Sunil Narine in the team. The Sri Lankan spinner was expected to pair up with the Caribbean sensation and wreak havoc at the Eden Gardens.
Senanayake played only one season for Kolkata Knight Riders. In the eight matches, he enjoyed nine scalps with an economy of 6.53. However, Senanayake’s IPL career did not progress ahead of 2013. He was reported for an illegal action and despite correcting it, he was never included in IPL afterward.
#2 Shane Bond - 2010 (Base Price: 100K Dollars, Bought at: 750K Dollars)
After mystery spinners, Kolkata Knight Riders’ most favorite breed is that of the fast bowlers. Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult, Mitchell Starc and many others stand testimony to it. Another illustrious name in the list is Shane Bond. The New Zealand speedster had diverted to the rebel ICL before returning to the mainstream.
In 2010 IPL auction, two teams kept bidding aggressively to vouch for the services of Shane Bond. Eventually, Shane Bond was bought for a stunning 750K dollars by Kolkata Knight Riders in a tie-breaker. The pace bowler had earlier expressed his wish to play for Chennai Super Kings, but he had to settle for the purple and gold jersey.
Shane Bond featured in eight matches of KKR and picked up nine wickets. His best bowling figures were 2/24. He played in only one season and later that year announced his retirement from all formats of cricket.
#1 Mashrafe Mortaza - 2009 (Base Price: 50K Dollars, Bought at: 600K Dollars)
In a bid to expand its catchment area and gain popularity in the neighbouring region, KKR decided to avail the services of Bangladesh all-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza. The all-rounder at that time was seen as an effective bowler and a slogger who could whack a few sixes.
Mortaza set the IPL 2009 auction ablaze and he trumped the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen to grab the headlines. The bidding war between two Bollywood heroines, Juhi Chawla (in absence of Shah Rukh Khan) and Preity Zinta (KXIP) culminated in Mortaza getting richer by 600,000 Dollars. KKR won the battle and thus purchased the most expensive Bangladeshi cricketer in the IPL.
However, an anti-climax awaited. Mortaza played only one match for Kolkata Knight Riders. In that match, he conceded 58 runs in his four overs and gave away 21 runs in his last over as Deccan Chargers surged to a win. The Bangladeshi cricketer never featured in the IPL again.