Former India and KKR pacer Ajit Agarkar talks to mid-day on Stokes' 14.5 cr deal
The Indian Premier League (IPL) Player Auction witnessed intense bidding from each of the eight franchises as money flowed from all quarters. But at the end of the day, it was England all-rounder Ben Stokes who made history in the league's decade-long existence by becoming the most expensive overseas player in IPL.
Stokes was snapped by Rising Pune Supergiants for Rs 14.5 crore (USD 2.16 million approx), seven times more than his base price. He is also the second highest paid player among the current crop of IPL players, behind Virat Kohli, who is paid Rs 15 crore by Royal Challengers Bangalore per season.
Former India speedster and ESPN Cricinfo auction day expert panelist Ajit Agarkar was not surprised to see Stokes attracting a huge price. "He's the best all-rounder in the world and was always hot property. You don't get good all-rounders these days and he's one of the best in the business," said Agarkar.
The NZ-born Stokes (25) boasts of a strike rate of 134.03 in the shortest format and a moderate bowling economy rate of 8.60 in 77 matches.
"Stokes gives you so much both with bat and ball. He brings that balance to the team and makes your selection all the more easier," Agarkar added.
Delight for his skip
Rising Pune Supergiants have a sound batting line up — with the likes of skipper Steven Smith, MS Dhoni, Usman Khawaja and Ajinkya Rahane. However, it's the bowling department that takes a beating. Agarkar agreed. "Pune are definitely not short in their batting, but they are light on bowling. They don't have that many resources in that department. Smith will be hoping Stokes can do something with the ball by bowling some good overs in the end. He's a good batsman as well and Pune can use his big hitting," Agarkar explained.
Stokes might not be there until the end of the tournament and may feature in just the first 14 games for the Pune franchise.
This is also the first time the England vice-captain will make his presence as a franchise cricketer. Agarkar didnt feel that the pressure to perform in every match will make Stokes crumble.
"I can't imagine a player like Stokes falling prey to pressure. That he can bat and bowl equally well reflects in his career graph which is there for all to see," the 39-year-old Mumbai cricketer concluded.