RR get back their core picking Rahane, Samson, Binny from the auction

Bengaluru, January 27, 2018: Rajasthan Royals batted on the front foot on the first day of the Indian Premier League auction to build a strong team around its old core for the upcoming season 11. Their prized catches included England all-rounder Ben Stokes (Rs 12.5 cr) and Indian star batsman Ajinkya Rahane (Rs 4 cr).

Back in the IPL fold after missing two seasons, Rajasthan Royals played their cards judiciously to ensure they have a team the fans are able to connect with while they retain their own unique flavour.

Stokes was the fifth player in the list with a base price of Rs 2 crore, and teams expectedly were involved in a fierce bidding war to rope in the star all-rounder.

Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals went for him. KXIP fought all the way for Stokes with Chennai Super Kings first and then Kolkata Knight Riders. Each time they kept increasing the stakes. KKR went up to Rs 11.5 crore before dropping out with KXIP pitching in with Rs 12 crore. However, just when they thought they had grabbed Stokes, Rajasthan Royals jumped in the fray and pulled off a coup of sorts by raising the pitch further with an offer of Rs 12.5 crore for Stokes. That was enough for KXIP to cave in and Royals to have their first buy from the auction.

Stokes has had a stellar last season, scoring 316 runs in 12 matches and taking 12 wickets for a brilliant all-round performance. Stokes took to Twitter to express his joy of joining RR and tweeted, “Buzzing to be representing Rajasthan Royals in this year’s IPL and playing alongside Jos Buttler.”

Rajasthan Royals then smartly used their ‘Right To Match’ card to snap up a core member of their group-Ajinkya Rahane. KXIP and Mumbai Indians aggressively bid for Rahane. KXIP made the final offer of Rs 4 crore for Rahane, and Rajasthan, who were quietly watching the bidding war between KXIP and MI, quickly used their RTM card to get the India star.

It was a big moment for Rajasthan Royals to have Rahane back. He has been the face of Rajasthan Royals for long and learned the nuances of the game amidst stalwarts like Rahul Dravid in the franchise.

Rahane emerged as the leading run-scorer for RR in IPL 2012 (560 runs) and was also the highest run-scorer in Champions League T20 in 2013. Bestowed with solid technique and great temperament to absorb pressure, Rahane’s attacking style in the format has always left everyone impressed. His clinical assaults, while playing for Rajasthan Royals, has been the flavour of IPL seasons.

Rajasthan Royals co-owner Manoj Badale was all excited to have Stokes and Rahane. “An hour into the auction and we got two of our key targets, Ajinkya Rahane and Ben Stokes. Rahane, if you cut him open he has got Royals through him. Ben Stokes fits the bill of star all rounder and steps into the shoes of Shane Watson. So we are very excited,” said Rajasthan co-owner Manoj Badale.

Rajasthan Royals also got their two previous players back-Stuart Binny at Rs 50 lakh and wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson for Rs 8 crore. When it came to wicket-keepers slot in the afternoon, Rajasthan aggressively bid for names like Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa but made their big bids for Samson and Jos Buttler.

Samson, who has honed his skills in Rajasthan as a teenage talent, was available at a base price of Rs 1 crore. Mumbai Indians too wanted Sanju and a determined Rajasthan had to overcome a fierce challenge from them to take the Kerala boy for Rs 8 crore.

Rajasthan had another great buy in England’s limited overs wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, winning him after a bidding war with MI for Rs 4.4 crore. An attacking batsman Buttler has been sensational for England in the shorter formats. He hammered a century against Australia in the third ODI in Sydney last week.

He has scored the three fastest centuries for England in the 50-overs format, the fastest one coming against Pakistan off 46 balls in 2015.

23-year-old Samson, an explosive batsman, has been in tremendous form in domestic cricket this season, hitting three tons in a row in Ranji Trophy.

“I am very, very happy and very excited to get back to Rajasthan Royals. I started as a kid when I was 18 at Rajasthan Royals and I had teammates like Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith. Now they are legends and I am still playing. I just want to get back and learn a lot from them. I am very excited to get back to the team and be involved in that beautiful environment created by Rajasthan Royals management. I am thankful to each and everyone who helped me get back to Rajasthan Royals,” said Sanju Samson.

Rajasthan Royals also snapped up Rahul Tripathi among the uncapped Indian players. Rahul has had a phenomenal run in IPL last year and scored 391 runs.

Late in the evening, RR once again broke their bank for two new T20 sensations, Jofra Archer and D’Arcy Short. Both have made their mark in Big Bash League this season, playing for Hobart Hurricanes.

Archer, the Sussex pace-bowling all rounder, has been widely talked about after his spectacular performances (15 wickets in Big Bash). Several teams were in the lookout for the young star but Royals got hold of him.

Short, the Western Australia player, who bats left-handed and bowls slow left-arm unorthodox, is the top scorer in Big Bash League with 504 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 147.80.

The squad so far:

Steve Smith (Retained at Rs 12.5 cr)

Ben Stokes: Rs 12.5 cr

Ajinkya Rahane: Rs 4 cr

Stuart Binny: Rs 50 lakh

Sanju Samson: Rs 8 cr

Jos Buttler: Rs 4.4 cr

Rahul Tripathi :Rs 3.4 cr

D’Arcy Short : Rs 4 cr

Jofra Archer: Rs 7.2 crore

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