By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Dec 18 (IANS) For some it will be about finding the remaining pieces of their puzzle, while others with unsettled line-ups will look to add muscle and even overhaul the core of their sides at the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction which will take place in the state capital on Thursday.
As many as 332 cricketers (186 Indian, 146 overseas players) will go under the hammer at the auction at a plush hotel here with Australia’s all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and veteran South African fast bowler Dale Steyn among those opting for the highest base price of Rs 2 crore.
It won’t be a big auction this time with only 73 slots there to be filled by the eight franchises and 29 of them can be foreign buys.
Kings XI Punjab have the maximum money to spend (Rs 42.70 crore) and will look to rope in a captain after India’s premier Test off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was traded to Delhi Capitals. KXIP might go all out for England’s World Cup winning skipper Eoin Morgan or Australia’s limited overs captain Aaron Finch.
Kings XI also have a new head coach in Anil Kumble and the former India captain is likely to try and shore up their bowling arsenal despite having the likes of Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman and M Ashwin.
Heavyweights Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians have more or less a set core of players retained and will look to buy back-up options in case of injuries. Both teams do not have a lot of money left in their purse and would look to spend smartly.
India captain Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore will have their eyes on overseas players although they don’t have too much purse remaining (Rs 27.90 crore) to play with. RCB, who endured a dismal season last time, have a new new coaching staff and scouting system in place, and therefore it remains to be seen how they go about on Thursday.
Coming to Kolkata Knight Riders who have released big names like Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, and Piyush Chawla the onus would be to buy a dashing opener to replace the explosive Lynn and in terms of purse, they have the second highest remaining among the teams (Rs 35.65 crore). The likes of England’s Jason Roy and Alex Carey could be options for KKR who also need a domestic spinner to replace the seasoned Chawla.
Like KKR, Delhi Capitals will also be on the lookout for good foreign buys having a strong core Indian contingent. Capitals don’t have a big purse as KKR with Rs 27.85 crore remaining, so they might look to snaffle a smart catch at a low price who can come good.
Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad will have to add to their domestic roster and within their purse, where Royals (Rs 28.90 crore) have an edge over Sunrisers (Rs 17 crore), the two teams will have to fish for efficient recruits and that can get tricky in a small auction.
The gala auction on Thursday will also see some of the lesser known Indian players hog the limelight like it has been the case in previous editions.
Among those hopefuls are seventeen-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal, the youngest batsman ever to script a double ton in List A cricket, tall left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore and Abhimanyu Easwaran.
The IPL would also provide a platform for players to test their skills against the best ahead of the T20 World Cup in October next year. Kohli, for one, could look to bat at No. 3 for RCB for continuity meaning the team has to look for an overseas opener during the auction.
All franchises will also be looking to rope in the services of West Indies big-hitter Shimron Hetmyer whose base price of Rs 50 lakh is another bonus. Hetmyer, 22, gave a perfect audition in the first ODI against India with a career-best 139. Another player who might go big is Australia’s premier pacer Pat Cummins owing to his exploits across formats.
This is the first time the IPL auction is taking place in Kolkata and the buzz surrounding it is unmistakable at the home of KKR.