The expanded Indian Premier League (IPL) lineup of 10 teams will have 590 players to choose from and fill a maximum of 217 vacant slots, including 70 foreigners, in the mega auction to be held on 12-13 February in Bengaluru.
As in the past, there has been some talk that this is the last of the mega auctions. The insane activity in which the rich and famous owners are involved in rebuilding their teams to create a strong title run has been a unique IPL experience.
The new teams of Lucknow and Ahmedabad have named KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya as captains respectively. But the two underperforming outfits, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings, and Kolkata Knight Riders (skipper Eoin Morgan is past his prime) can get ready for some bidding war to choose their captain in the auction.
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Ishan Kishan, the explosive Mumbai Indians batter with past India U-19 captain experience and ex-Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer are two candidates. Other competitors are not so simple but come with experience. There are Australian test skipper Pat Cummins, Indian spin-ace Ravichandran Ashwin, opener Shikhar Dhawan and Australian batting star David Warner. All these players have confidently advanced with the highest 2 crore base price.
Punjab is best placed in the auction room with the highest remaining purse of 72 crore, have retained only two players. Sunrises Hyderabad ( 68 cr) and Rajasthan Royals ( 62 cr) come next with a big kitty.
HOT INDIAN PICKS
A total of 33 players have signed up through the teams pre-auction, six of them through the new franchises. Capped India players mean the bank strength of Indian cricket and they will be sought after. Teams were able to break their bank over the likes of seaman Harshal Patel, Washington Sundar among the all-rounders, each of the fast-bowlers such as Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Deepak Chahar and Umesh Yadav. And spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya can also end up very rich. Batter Deepak Hooda, recently selected in the Indian team for the white ball series against West Indies, power-hitter Shah Rukh Khan, who is a stand-by for the series, will also have high hopes. Even Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey and Suresh Raina, now outside national strife, can find favor.
KEY OVERSEAS PLAYERS
As always in the overseas player pool, fast bowling shares will be in high demand. Trent Boult, Kagiso Rabada, Lockie Ferguson and Josh Hazlewood will find many takers. Quinton de Kock, Shimron Hetmeyer, Jason Roy, Shakib Al Hasan and Nicolas Pooran among the hits and Jason Holder and Mitchell Marsh among the all-rounders will attract a lot of interest.
The ongoing U-19 World Cup will also be closely followed by the franchises and as Yash Dhull, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Vicky Ostwal, Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Baby AB of South Africa – Dewas Brevis – were able to pack their first IPL contract.
There is uncertainty about the participation of some international players from England and Australia given their international obligations. One last word about their availability comes closer to the auction.