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Sold For $2,400,000, Gautam Gambhir Wanted Shah Rukh Khan To Spend Entire Budget On Sunil Narine In IPL 2012 Auction

Rishikesh Sharma

Sold For $2,400,000, Gautam Gambhir Wanted Shah Rukh Khan To Spend Entire Budget On Sunil Narine In IPL 2012 Auction

Former India batter Gautam Gambhir changed the fate of Kolkata Knight Riders upon the joining the franchise as a captain in 2011. Gambhir, who had his own way of running a team, would do everything in his capacity to promote players with potential written all over them. As a result, he literally forced co-owner Shah Rukh Khan to get him spinner Sunil Narine during IPL 2012 auction irrespective of the amount.

KKR, who failed to qualify for the playoffs even once in the first three IPL seasons, benefited from buying Gambhir for what was a record-breaking amount in the auction back in the day. With the franchise splurging a grand price of $2,400,000 (INR 11.04 crore) on the left-handed batter, they successfully defeated rival bidders such as Pune Warriors India, Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Mumbai Indians. For those who don’t know, both Knight Riders’ titles had come under Gambhir in 2012 and 2014.

Not known for mincing words, Gambhir was always clear in his preference of a captain having a say at the auction table. Narine, who wasn’t a known commodity at the time, had somehow managed to impress Gambhir enough that he wasn’t willing to let him go at any cost. 11 years down the line, it wouldn’t be wrong to state that Gambhir’s analysis of Narine’s craft was correct to the core.

Gautam Gambhir Wanted Shah Rukh Khan To Spend Entire Budget On Sunil Narine In IPL 2012 Auction

Although not present at the table during IPL 2012 auction due to his participation in India’s tour of Australia 2011/12, Gambhir had telephonic conversations with CEO Venky Mysore and Shah Rukh Khan just a day before the bidding war.

Bullish on having Narine part of his bowling attack, Gambhir had made the same clear to both Mysore and Khan. While Mysore wasn’t entirely confident about the move due to unawareness around Narine, the captain had explicitly informed Khan to spend the entire $2 million budget on Narine, if required. In a chat with TNN later, Gambhir had revealed the whole conversation.

“Till what budget do you want to go in the auction? How much is the limit?” Gambhir asked Khan.

“Two million. But who is this guy? Are you sure you want him?” Khan replied.

“Yes. And if the limit is two million, go to two million. We don’t need anyone else,” Gambhir said.

“If you want him, we’ll get him,” Khan assured Gambhir.

Standing by their leader, Knight Riders managed to acquire Narine’s services for a price of $700,000 (around INR 3.5 crore). Narine, who had played just three international matches before the auction, had registered himself for a base price of $50,000.

Readers must note that all three of Narine’s ODIs until that point in time had come during West Indies’ tour of India 2011. Right before the ODI series, Narine had emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in Champions League T20 2011. Playing for Trinidad & Tobago, Narine had picked 10 wickets at an economy rate of 4.37 to make batters dance to his tunes and woo Gambhir, in particular.

11 Years Down The Line, Sunil Narine Remains Pivotal Part Of Knight Riders’ Family

While Gambhir parted ways with Kolkata before IPL 2018, Narine still plies his trade for the same franchise in the cash-rich league. Retained for a price of INR 9.50 crore ahead of IPL 2014 mega auction alongside Gambhir, Narine was on the same contract till 2017. A financial promotion saw him earn INR 12.50 crore IPL 2018 onward.

In spite of a dip in Narine’s stock post 2018, KKR kept their faith intact in the mystery spinner who had also played the role of a makeshift opener for a good part between 2017-2019. Even though for a reduced price of INR 6 crore, he was retained again before IPL 2022 auction. With 163 IPL wickets under his belt at an economy of 6.73, Narine is the eighth-highest wicket-taker (highest for Kolkata) in the history of the competition.

Last year, the franchise shared a video where Mysore talked about reasons for admiring Narine. It is for the same reason that Narine’s association with Knight Riders isn’t just limited to the IPL.

With the Knight Riders’ family spreading their wings across countries and leagues, Narine has also played for Trinbago Knight Riders (Caribbean Premier League), Abu Dhabi Knight Riders (International League T20) and Los Angeles Knight Riders (Major League Cricket). It is noteworthy that Narine currently leads both Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles in ILT20 and MLC respectively.

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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