Lucknow IPL franchise has signed wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul for INR 17 crore ahead of IPL 2022 mega auction, making him, along with Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli, the joint-highest-paid player in the IPL across all seasons. Kohli was signed by RCB for the same sum ahead of the last big IPL auction in 2018.
KL Rahul was earlier part of the Punjab Kings for four consecutive years since 2018. He was the highest run-scorer for the franchises for four years consistently. However, despite his contributions with the bat, Punjab failed to reach the playoffs on a single occasion. Ahead of the 2022 edition of the tournament, KL Rahul parted ways with the franchise.
Lucknow, one of the two new clubs to join the IPL in October, will enter next month’s blockbuster auction with INR 59.89 crore in the bank, having also signed Australia allrounder Marcus Stoinis for INR 9.2 million and uncapped legspinner Ravi Bishnoi for INR 4 crore.
As per a report published by ESPNCricinfo earlier this week, KL Rahul was the first-choice pick for the Lucknow franchise from the drafts. The other two picks were Marcus Stoinis and Ravi Bishnoi. On Friday night, Sanjiv Goenka, the owner of the franchise’s RP Sanjiv Goenka Group (RPSG), confirmed the lineup on a Star Sports show.
Goenka told Star Sports, the IPL’s host broadcaster, that the players have been chosen with consideration of keeping them in the team for a long-term duration.
“KL is not only an outstanding batsman but also a great wicketkeeper,” Goenka said. “Marcus is a great finisher, a good bowler and a phenomenal fielder. Ravi brings a unique dimension to the spin department and is an exceptional fielder. We want players to be here for 3-4-5-6-7-8 years.”
Goenka also confirmed that Rahul will be named the captain of the team. “Yes KL will be the captain. I have been very impressed with, not only his batting and wicketkeeping but also his leadership skills. He is evolving, growing, maturing as a leader. He is somebody I would’ve wanted to lead the team and I do believe that given the right atmosphere, environment, he will emerge as a remarkable leader.”
Meanwhile, Ahmedabad, the second new franchise, will enter the IPL auction with a budget of INR 52 crore after signing India allrounder Hardik Pandya and Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan for INR 15 crore apiece and India batter Shubman Gill for INR 8 crore. Pandya will skipper the franchise, Ahmedabad revealed on Friday.
Prior to the auction, the IPL enabled both new clubs to select three players (who were not previously signed by their respective franchises). The IPL 2022 mega auction is set to take place on February 12 and 13 in Bengaluru.