PKL 2019 auction: Siddharth Desai, Nitin Tomar among top five buys on day 1

Siddharth Desai had the third-most points among all players in PKL 6. PKL

Unlike last year, the 2019 PKL auction only saw two bids above 1 crore, with Siddharth Desai fetching the highest price. Here are the top five buys on the opening day.

Full list of players bought | PKL auction: All you need to know | Day 1: As it happened

Siddharth Desai (raider) - Rs. 1.45 crore, Telugu Titans

How he did in Season 6

Desai had a stellar maiden PKL season, scoring 218 raid points and three tackle points, finishing third on the list of total points and raid points for the season. He scored 15 raid points on debut and became the fastest in PKL history to 50 raid points, reaching the mark in just his fourth game. Desai's exploits with the running hand touch, his signature move, won him the best debutant of the season award, as well as a nomination for Emerging Sportsperson of the Year at the ESPN India Awards 2018.

How the bidding went

The manner in which the bids for Desai shot up made it clear he was the most in-demand player of the day. With a base price of Rs. 30 lakh as a Category A player, the second bid for him went straight up to Rs. 1 crore. The Titans and Tamil Thalaivas drove his price up to 1.3 crore, with the former raising it to the winning bid of 1.45 crore. As U Mumba chose not to use their Final Bid Match (FBM) card to retain Desai, he went to the Titans.

ESPN verdict: The price tag looks hefty, but his performance in 2018 justifies his status as the most expensive this season. Will have the weight of expectations on his shoulder, especially as the Titans won't have Rahul Chaudhari to fall back upon as raider.

Nitin Tomar (raider) - Rs. 1.20 crore, Puneri Paltan [retained with FBM]

How he did in Season 6

One of the most prolific raiders in 2017 for UP Yoddha, his new team in 2018, Puneri Paltan, failed to qualify for the playoffs. Tomar scored 100 points in 11 games, but then was ruled out of the rest of the season with a serious knee injury. Across two seasons, he scores at a rate of more than seven raid points per game, and at 23, is likely to have his best years ahead of him.

How the bidding went

As expected, his former team UP Yoddha, who had made him the most expensive buy at the 2017 auction, went for him aggressively off the blocks, but had a good contest with Tamil Thalaivas, as the two teams took him past the crore mark. Thalaivas appeared to have secured his services with 1.2 crore, but Puneri Paltan used their FBM card to hold on to him.

ESPN verdict: It's a good buy, especially because Pune haven't spent much of their purse on day one, and also hadn't retained any players. It's a start from scratch, and gives them the chance to build their squad around Tomar.

Rahul Chaudhari (raider) - Rs. 94 lakh, Tamil Thalaivas

How he did in Season 6

Rahul Chaudhari had one of his poorest seasons in 2018, scoring just 159 raid points from 21 games as his team Telugu Titans fizzled out without any substantial charge towards the playoffs. Despite being relieved of captaincy duties, which told on him in Season 5, he finished outside the top 10 raiders for the first time in PKL history. At 25, he's still in the prime of his career, and brings with himself the experience of 100 PKL games, and an impressive 825 raid points.

How the bidding went

Telugu Titans had already used up their FBM card quota by the time Chaudhari's name came up, and this left his bid a fairly close battle between Tamil Thalaivas and Puneri Paltan. Thalaivas finished bottom of their zone last year, and had the fewest wins among all 12 teams last year, and that desperation saw them bag Chaudhari at Rs. 94 lakh.

ESPN verdict: Money well spent, because Rahul Chaudhari is a proven performer in the PKL. He should prosper in a team that already has experienced players like Ajay Thakur and Manjeet Chillar among the retained players.

Monu Goyat (raider) - Rs. 93 lakh, UP Yoddha

How he did in Season 6

Monu Goyat went into the 2018 season as the most expensive buy, with Haryana Steelers shelling out Rs. 1.51 crore for the raider. That pressure showed, as he picked up 160 points in 20 games but failed to recreate the kind of form he had shown the season before with Patna Pirates. Steelers had a poor season, too, but Goyat's performance was good enough to keep him in contention for another lucrative contract for this year.

How the bidding went

Monu Goyat's bidding, though it was set at a base price of Rs. 30 lakh, went up to 50 lakh immediately with the first bid. UP Yoddha were always happy to increase the stakes from contenders, and eventually sealed Goyat's place at Rs. 93 lakh, a drop of 38 percent from his value at last year's auction.

ESPN verdict: Not a bad deal at all, considering they have also bought Shrikant Jadhav and Rishank Devadiga. Three top raiders should give them enough variety and options, while keeping all three fresh through a long season.

Sandeep Narwal (all-rounder) - Rs. 89 lakh, U Mumba

How he did in Season 6

Season 6 was disappointing for Narwal, whose team Puneri Paltan had a disappointing season in any case. He picked up just 66 points from 18 matches, and 25 of those for raids. Narwal's defensive ability, which won him the best defender of Season 3, still makes him an attractive proposition, especially for any team that went into the auction with few senior Indian players.

How the bidding went

Narwal was one of the first high-profile names who came under the hammer, and U Mumba, Bengaluru Bulls and Dabang Delhi all sent his price moving north from the base of Rs. 30 lakh. Bengaluru dropped out once the figure went past 50, and after a fair amount of to-and-fro, U Mumba got Narwal at just short of 90 lakh. Puneri Paltan, who could have used an FBM card to retain him, decided against the same.

ESPN verdict: He's a good buy, but perhaps ate into U Mumba's plans to invest in one of the top raiders. Mumba have a good defence, but if they had more funds with them, they could have employed FBM to go for Siddharth Desai.