IPL Mega Auction: Hazlewood’s best T20I figures on eve of auction could have titled scale in his favour

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Pace bowler Josh Hazlewood emerging as the most expensive Australian bought on the opening day of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Mega Auction — and nearly quadrupling his earnings from what he got last year — is a sign that the 31-year-old has finally broken into the top echelons of cricketers from around the world competing in the lucrative league.

Delhi were engaged in a see-saw battle with Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians to acquire the Australian quick, before Royal Challengeres Bangalore entered the fray and picked him for INR 7.75 crore, the highest amount secured by an Australian cricketer on Day 1 of the Mega Auction.

While Hazlewood nearly quadrupled his previous IPL earnings at Virat Kohli’s Bangalore, Australian Test skipper Pat Cummins and left-handed opener David Warner saw hefty cuts to their IPL value, even as top-order batter and former skipper Steve Smith went unsold.

The price tag nearly quadruples the Rs two crore Hazlewood earned at the IPL last year.

A lot of factors went into Hazelwood being purchased for a whopping INR 7.5 crore, with his best T20I figures in Australia’s win over Sri Lanka (4/12 in four overs) in the opening match of the series at SCG on February 11 playing a huge role in the success at the IPL Mega Auction.

Hazlewood, who has emerged as a world-class bowler in the shortest format in the past 12 months, will join white-ball specialist Glenn Maxwell at RCB, who was retained by the franchise last December for a reported sum in excess of Rs 10 crore.

While Hazlewood was one of four Australians to earn million-dollar contracts on the first day of the Mega Auction, Mitchell Marsh and David Warner will come together to play at Ricky Ponting-coached Delhi Capitals. The duo had previously played together at Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Australian Test skipper Pat Cummins was another one to get a decent sum with Kolkata Knight Riders shaking off a battle from new franchises Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans to buy him back for INR 7.25 crores after previously buying him for INR 15.5 crores in the IPL 2020 auctions.

But while Mitchell Marsh joined Hazlewood in tripling their previous IPL earnings, Cummins and Warner both saw hefty cuts to their previous earnings.

Warner had been earning in excess of INR 12 crore a year with the Sunrisers Hyderabad and had been predicted before the auction to be one of the most in-demand players, according to cricket.com.au, but he went INR 6.25 crore to Delhi Capitals, which looks like a steal for the franchise.

“We were a bit surprised the price did not go higher for him (Warner),” said Parth Jindal, co-owner of the Delhi Capitals. “He was obviously very much in our plans, knowing his history in the IPL, he’s played for Delhi in the past so we’re very excited to get him back into the Capitals and with Prithvi (Shaw) and him it’s a lethal opening pair.”

There was also disappointment for Steve Smith, Matthew Wade and Adam Zampa on the opening day as all went unsold in the first round of bidding. The three failed to attract a single bid at their base price. They could still be picked up by a team in a later round on Sunday.

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