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Around 8 Months Before 40x Price Hike To INR 8 Crore, Venkatesh Iyer Was Predicted To Be ‘Find Of KKR’ By Harbhajan Singh

Rishikesh Sharma

Around 8 Months Before 40x Price Hike To INR 8 Crore, Venkatesh Iyer Was Predicted To Be 'Find Of KKR' By Harbhajan Singh

The last quarter (or so) of 2021 was a life-changing period for India and Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer. A breakthrough via Indian Premier League 2021 Phase 2 was soon followed by a national debut and a monumental 40x hike in his IPL salary. Legendary Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, who Iyer’s teammate in his only season for Knight Riders a couple of years ago, had predicted him to be the “find of KKR”.

In what was the first-ever instance of a franchise bidding for him, Iyer was sold for his base price of INR 20 lakh during IPL 2021 auction. However, less did he know that he would bcomee one of the four players retained by Kolkata before a mega IPL 2022 auction.

Iyer, who earned as much as INR 8 crore IPL 2022 onward, registered one of the biggest hikes in the history of the cash-rich league. India T20I captain Hardik Pandya, who currently leads Gujarat Titans in the IPL, had once received a record-breaking 110% increment ahead of IPL 2018 auction. For those who don’t know, Mumbai Indians had bought Pandya for INR 10 lakh during IPL 2015 auction but ended up paying him an opulent INR 11 crore as a retention amount three years later.

Pandya, who played 37 games for Mumbai between 2015-2017, had scored 406 runs at a strike rate of 142.46 and picked 10 wickets at an economy rate of 9.08. Iyer, on the other hand, played just 10 games before getting such a pay rise. His 370 runs had come at a strike rate of 128.47 apart from three wickets as a gentle medium-pacer.

Around 8 Months Before 40x Price Hike To INR 8 Crore, Venkatesh Iyer Was Predicted To Be ‘Find Of KKR’ By Harbhajan Singh

In what ended up becoming his last IPL season, Harbhajan Singh was instantly impressed with Iyer’s batting in the nets. In an interview with ESPNCricinfo post IPL 2021, Iyer had revealed the veteran player’s prediction for him even before the season began in the last week of March.

“You will be KKR’s find this season. I have complete faith in you and when you get the opportunity, you will definitely be able to do it.”

In November 2021, Kolkata had retained Iyer alongside Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine. Interestingly, the biggest victory for the Madhya Pradesh player lied in the franchise preferring him over Narine as their third retained player. A chief reason behind the same could’ve been Iyer’s ability to open the innings and bowl some utility overs in the middle.

Has Venkatesh Iyer Justified INR 8 Crore Price Tag At KKR?

It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say that Iyer has failed to justify his INR 8 crore price tag thus far. There were a lot of expectations from him ahead of IPL 2022 but he never got going in 15th season of the biggest T20 competition in the world. The left-handed batter just managed 182 runs at an average and strike rate of 16.55 and 107.69 respectively which included a lone half-century.

Knight Riders shuffling Iyer up and down in the batting order also didn’t help his case. Iyer, who started the season as an opening batter, was demoted to the middle-order midway into the league stage. In the last few matches, he again got an opportunity to open alongside an experienced campaigner in Ajinkya Rahane.

Be it the IPL or international cricket, captains have refrained from using Iyer’s bowling ability as opposed to how he was marketed initially. Readers must note that he bowled just four overs throughout IPL 2022 conceding 46 runs without any wicket.

In IPL 2023, he was mostly used as an Impact Sub without being asked to bowl even once. With the bat in hand, he had an impressive start scoring 83 (40) in a successful high-scoring run-chase against defending champions GT. Just seven days later, he smashed an excellent century against Mumbai.

However, after a career-best performance, things went downhill for him. While 404 runs across 14 innings at an average and strike rate of 28.86 and 145.85 respectively seem decent on paper, what is dejecting is the fact that 244 out of these 404 runs had come in just three innings.

About the author

Rishikesh Sharma

Rishikesh Sharma


An engineering graduate and an ardent sports fan, Rishikesh Sharma is covering cricket for three years now after not making peace with a corporate life and has written more than 5000 articles. While Sourav Ganguly made him fall in love with the sport, Brendon McCullum and Gautam Gambhir enhanced it. Apart from cricket, Rishikesh is a huge fan of Liverpool FC. When not watching sports, you will find him riding around Jaipur.

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