Chris Morris of Royal Challengers Bangalore bowles.
Chris Morris, in action for Royal Challengers Bangalore last season, shattered all price records in the auction to play for Rajasthan Royals in the 2021 season. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Kolkata: The bowling numbers of Chris Morris, the South African allrounder, was primarily instrumental in fetching him the staggering price tag of $ 2.25 million in IPL auction on Thursday - according to Rajasthan Royals Director Kumar Sangakkara.

Admitting that the price was ‘‘significantly high,’’ the newly appointed Sri Lankan legend felt such situations often occur in the smaller auctions. ‘‘Unlike a big auction where franchises re-structure their entire teams, the teams here may want to fill up specific gaps and push for it. We would have liked to get him for less, but franchises like Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings were in the fray for Morris and we had to push through to get him,’’ said Sangakkara.


Taking stock of the entire proceedings with a select group of media in a virtual session, Sangakkara said the bowling figures of Morris in the IPL over the years, especially at the death overs, was the decisive factor as they wanted someone to support Jofra Archer in the upcoming edition of IPL in April-May. ‘‘It’s his bowling which matters, while his ability to finish games with the bat is a bonus. We also have AJ Tye and Mustafizur Rehman alongwith the Indian fast bowlers and it makes for a healthy pace attack,’’ he said.

The powerhouse called Ben Stokes is slo available, but Sangakkara made his plans clear about the star England allrounder. “In terms of his overs, we don’t want to burn him (Stokes) too much with the ball and use him tactically. In areas where he can make a difference for us. So in terms of Stokes coming in and bowling, we have no doubt that he can deliver but we don’t want him to burn him all the time,” he said.

During their start-stop campaign in the UAE last year, the Royals were often hampered by an unsettled opening pair as well as too many experiements with the batting line-up. Jos Buttler, the dashing England wicketkeeper-batsman, was first tried both at the top of the order and then as a finisher and in the batting line-up for the coming season, he looked their best batsman in terms of quality and experience after the departure of Steve Smith.

Asked where would the think tank want him to bat this season, Sangakkara kept it open-ended. ‘‘We need to speak to Jos as we want to get the best out of him. Last season, he played a 360 finishing role for us, much like AB de Villiers (for Royal Challengers Bangalore). See, he is one of the most destructive opening batsman in this format but at the same time, he can adapt to any situations. We also have Shivam Dube, whom we have got at a very good price as well as players like Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia lower down. We will try to get Jos the best place,’’ he observed.

“It was an exciting auction. From our point of view, we wer e targeting certain players and we’re callehappy to get our targets. We were looking at Shivam Dube for that middle-order spot in our batting line-up and finally got him,” the former Sri Lankan captain said.

“We’re excited to have picked up some talented Indian youngsters, all of whom add different dimensions to our squad. As a team, we’re delighted with the targets we were able to get and looking forward to working with the squad during the IPL now,” he added.