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Why Parnell is the best buy of the lot

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There is still an air of trivialness when one gets down to ‘analyzing’ IPL teams. The sense that you are discussing something of life-stopping importance that one gets when discussing Test line-ups, or even national teams in ODIs and T20s is utterly missing. It is not so much the fact that it is only a two-year old tournament as much as the juvenile fluff and paraphernalia around it that makes it seem so. Nevertheless, the auctions have thrown up a few points of note that are worth mulling over.

Unlike the first, or even the second auction, we now have a new perspective to view the player purchases from. The teams have been operating for two seasons now, and most of them have fallen into patterns, fallen into systems (or as in the case of KKR, just fallen). The bids made now can be viewed in light of what each team needs in terms of filling spaces in their strategies. That, more than the price of the player, should decide what is a good buy and what is not, this time around.

One assumes the brief for the Mumbai Indians should have been pretty simple – buy anyone who will cover up for the mediocrity of the rest of the team. The team is ordinary in most departments, and any player with the sheer individual force to drag it out of this quicksand would be the number one priority. Pollard fits this bill better than anyone else. Given this context, he should be the second best buy of the tournament.

However, the Delhi Daredevils’ poaching of Wayne Parnell should count as the best buy of today’s auctions on several counts. On talent and skill alone, Parnell is a very good acquisition. The purchase decision grows in impact in the seamless way the player fits into and adds synergy to the Delhi line up.

Parnell is a fantastic, complete, modern T20 quick bowler to complement the classic, old-school fast bowler that is Nannes. Rounding off their already strong batting line up (Sehwag, Gambhir, Karthik, Dilshan, Warner) is now what is easily the strongest bowling line up of all IPL teams (Parnell, Nannes, Vettori, Mishra). Even if Vettori, De Villiers and Warner are rotated to circumvent the four-foreigners restriction, it is a line up that resembles the Australian team of 2002 in its all-bases-covered show of strength. Gut feeling, however, suggests they are not likely to win the tournament unless they get a strong, focussed leader to bind the lot. Something you cannot accuse Sehwag of – not yet, anyway.

Another team resembling the Australia of 2002 – quite literally – is the Rajasthan Royals. To add to Warne and Langer, they now have Martyn. With Lehmann hovering in the background, if they can just get Waugh and McGrath on board, they’ll have a good ‘all round’ unit.  Martyn, however, may hold them in good stead given that they need someone who can stay at the wicket and hold one end together. A gray area, however, is the limited exposure Martyn has had to this format (with only 4 internationals and 5 domestics under his belt).

More by luck (on account of having been outbid) than anything else, the Chennai Super Kings have come out of the auctions looking fairly smart. There were two key slots they have been looking to fill, the middle order hitter and a good quick bowler.  

Between Kemp and Perera, they have managed to fill Flintoff's middle order slot at roughly what it would have cost them to maintain his beer supply. This is as Plan B to the fact that they are still in a situation where they don’t need any new middle-order batsmen – they just need their existing ones – Morkel and Oram – to click. They have money left over to make room for and poach the missing fast bowler, a find that should put them in as certain finalists.

The Kolkata Knight Riders need to boost their bowling - and batting, and fielding, and their promotional videos, and everything else. That they have taken one firm step forward in plugging at least one of these holes with Bond means they are roughly three-fourths the way from winning the championship. Consistent performances from Gayle and McCullum and a return of the Ganguly of 2002 should help, which is almost as fairy-tale a wish as it is to hope for Bond to remain fit for 14 matches.

Outside of the auctions, the Kings XI Punjab have perhaps made the smartest grab of it all – sneaking in Adrian Barath for a shoe-string 75,000 dollars. Barath is amongst the foremost shining light of a Trinidad & Tobago team bursting with talent.

Accounting for this and all the other outcomes of the day, it can be said that the third round of auctions has gone well for the IPL, in that all-in-all, the gulf between the teams has narrowed, and the contest should be even. Contrary to popular perception, this has been a fairly exciting auction that should have very important implications for IPL 3.

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