Franchises will make choices depending on the strengths and weaknesses of their squad, the budget available and the maximum limit of domestic and overseas players.
So what strategy will different teams employ in the auction? Who will get the maximum buys from the elite club? Who will target the domestic players? Who will be keen to get some all-rounders on board?
Let us study the various squads and their requirements.
Chennai Super Kings:
Chennai Super Kings. (CSK/Twitter)
CSK have retained their core team – they have a well-settled unit and a wealth of experience and match-winners in Dhoni, Jadeja, Watson, Du Plessis, Raina and Harbhajan. With a purse of 8.40 crores remaining for two available slots, CSK would look to get some youth into an ageing side – preferably a top-order batsman and a quality left-arm bowler. CSK have exhausted their limit for overseas players and thus both their choices have to be from the domestic pool.
Manan Vohra could be a cheap buy for the defending champions. Vohra has a base price of just Rs. 20 lakh and is dashing opening batsman who can float anywhere in the top order. Vohra hit 67 in just 52 balls in the 2014 IPL Final against KKR. He aggregated 324 runs in 8 innings at a strike rate of 139.05 in the edition – his best in his IPL career. He also hammered 95 in just 50 deliveries against Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017. His overall strike rate in IPL is 131.77.
Jaydev Unadkat has listed the maximum base price for an Indian player at Rs 1.5 crore. The left-armer was one of the stars of the 2017 IPL picking 24 wickets in 12 matches at a stunning average of 13.41 conceding just 7.02 runs per over.
Axar Patel could be a like for like replacement should Dhoni want to rest Jadeja or he gets injured. Axar has an excellent T20 record – he has scored 1034 runs in 101 innings at a strike rate of 131.71 and has taken 92 wickets at an economy of just 7.13.
MI can select 7 players for a maximum purse of Rs. 11.15 crores. Six of these seven have to domestic players. They have a very potent fast bowling unit – with the likes of Bumrah, Cutting, McClenaghan, Milne and Behrendorff. They would look at strengthening their batting – the top and middle order is heavily dependent on Rohit and De Kock.
Yuvraj Singh, with a base price of Rs. 1 crore, could be a potential target for MI. He has 2652 runs for various teams over his time in the IPL at a strike rate of almost 130. He had a terrible 2018 season but was in good touch in the previous two editions scoring at 142.37 and 131.84.
Colin Ingram has a reserved base price of Rs. 2 crore and is another potential buy for MI. The South African has a great T20 record aggregating 5186 runs in 197 innings at a strike rate of 139.
Brendon McCullum and Wriddhiman Saha could also be players on MI’s radar. McCullum is the second-highest scorer in T20 history after Chris Gayle with 9620 runs at a strike rate of 137.21 in 351 innings. Saha can be used as a floater and has the ability to hit the long ball.
Jonny Bairstow is another wicket-keeper batsman they could consider though England internationals won’t be available for the entire duration of the tournament.
Amongst Indian batsmen, they could look at options like Manoj Tiwari and Baba Aparajith.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Bangalore has a weak squad and need to make the most of this IPL auction. Barring the two modern greats – AB de Villiers and Kohli – the batting lacks depth and experience. There is no Indian batsman in the middle order and no quality opener in the squad.
Bangalore have a purse of Rs. 36.20 crores for a maximum of 11 Indian and 4 overseas players.
Jonny Bairstow could be a great buy for them – he could open the innings and also play the additional role of wicket-keeper – this would release the pressure off AB.
Another option behind the stumps could be Anuj Rawat – a left-handed batsman and member of the India Under-19 Team - a good future prospect.
Another possible candidate could be the talented West Indian, Shimron Hetmyer. He has had a rollicking start to his T20 career and has scored 498 runs in just 17 innings at an average of 31.12 and strike rate of 144.34.
Yuvraj Singh and Hanuma Vihari could also be under the reckoning. Another Indian batsman they should consider is Ravikumar Samarth – he was in good form for India A in New Zealand.
They could look at 18 year old Siddharth Desai – a slow left-arm orthodox bowler – who is yet to make his T20 debut – as a potential future investment.
Sunrisers Hyderabad. (BCCI)
Sunrisers would desperately seek an opener to replace Dhawan at the top. Hetmyer and Guptill would be good options. The New Zealander has a stellar record in both domestic and international T20 matches. Overall, he has scored 6167 runs in 208 innings at an average of 32.62 and strike rate of 128.21.
Finishing games has been a problem for SRH and with slots for two overseas players available they must look to replace Brathwaite with a hard-hitting all-rounder lower down the order. A like for like replacement would be Corey Anderson who has a strike rate of 142.94 in T20 cricket.
They must also fill one of their three available Indian slots with an additional wicket-keeper. Ankush Bains and Sheldon Jackson could be good options.
Delhi would look for an experienced right-handed opening batsman to partner Dhawan at the top. With a purse of Rs. 25.50 crores the more popular option would be McCullum. But Delhi should also try and scoop Alex Hales who has been in great form in the T10 League in Sharjah. Hales is a T20 giant with over 5000 runs in the format at a strike rate of 142.29, though yet again his unavailability for the whole length of the tournament may count against him.
Delhi would also look to stack their middle-order with some quality batsmen – they can look at the likes of Darren Bravo, Usman Khawaja, Manoj Tiwary and Hanuma Vihari.
Although Delhi has a formidable overseas pace attack, Avesh Khan is their only real fast bowler from India. They should make a strong bid for Ishant Sharma. Another excellent and economical option would be the Vidarbha seamer, Rajneesh Gurbani. He was the second-highest wicket-taker in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season. Although not express pace, he can be restrictive, bowling a tight line and length.
They should also bargain for a quality overseas spinner. Adam Zampa should be a good choice – he is a wicket taker with 112 wickets in 97 T20 innings. He is also very restrictive conceding just 7.24 runs per over.
Rajasthan has a strong top-order but would look to strengthen their middle-order with an overseas and a couple of Indian batsmen.
Priyank Panchal has had two formidable Ranji seasons averaging 87.33 and 60.22 in 2016-17 and 2017-18. He was the leading scorer for Gujarat in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy. He should be on their radar keeping in mind their legacy of cultivating new talent.
Another promising upcoming talent is Ajay Rohera, the 21-year old batsman from Madhya Pradesh who set a world record with the highest score on first-class debut (267 against Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy in December, 2018).
With the release of Unadkat, the Royals would also look to include a good local and overseas fast bowler. Shami could be a potential replacement although there is some concern that the Indian team management may ask for bowlers who are part of World Cup plans to be given a breather in the tournament.
A good overseas option would be the rising T20 star from England – Pat Brown. Brown, 20, has already picked 32 wickets in 21 innings after making his debut last year. He was one of the heroes of Worcestershire who went to win the Vitality Blast this year.
Another possible buy could be Somerset’s tall fast bowler, James Overton who bowls with extreme pace and already tallies 56 wickets in 43 innings.
They could also afford to buy one of the great fast bowlers of the format – Malinga. The Sri Lankan has a tally of 353 wickets from 258 innings with an economy rate of just 6.92.
Kings XI Punjab:
Having let go of Axar Patel, Stoinis and Yuvraj, Kings XI are in need of quality all-rounders. They can choose a maximum of 11 Indian and 4 overseas players. They might look at the likes of Sam Curran and Angelo Mathews, though yet again their availability for the entire tournament is a question mark.
The Sri Lankan all-rounder has a wealth of experience having scored more than 2000 runs in 130 innings. He is a dangerous lower-order batsman capable of hitting the long ball. He is a disciplined bowler who can slip in a few tight overs. Jason Holder and Dwayne Smith are other all-rounders in the Rs. 75 Lakh category that Kings XI could consider.
Another interesting option would be Mumbai all-rounder, Shivam Dube. The left-handed batsman clobbered Pravin Tamble for five sixes in the eliminator of the Mumbai T20 League earlier in 2018. He has a strike rate of 147.65 in 12 T20 innings and has also scalped 10 wickets with his useful right-arm medium pace.
D’Arcy Short would also be a good purchase. The leading run-scorer in the Big Bash League in 2017-18, Short is an aggressive opening bat (strike rate of 135.39) who also offers variety to the Punjab attack (Ashwin, Mujeeb amd Gayle are all off-spinners) with his slow left-arm chinaman.
Varun Chakravathy, the mystery spinner, is another potential buy for Kings XI. Though yet to make his T20 debut, Varun has had a phenomenal start to his LIST-A career having already bagged 22 wickets in just 9 innings at an economy of just 4.23.
Kolkata Knight Riders:
KKR have 12 spots available in their kitty which can be filled by 7 Indian and 5 overseas players. They would want to invest in one or two middle-order batsmen. They could consider someone like Rilee Rossouw who is low key but a very effective T20 batsman with a proven record. The South African has scored over 3000 runs in the format at a strike rate of 131.07.
Another name that should interest them is of the Englishman, Laurie Evans, who smashed 614 runs for Sussex – the most by any player – in this years’ Vitality Blast.
KKR’s Indian pace attack is young and thus they would like to hire an experienced domestic or overseas seamer. They should bet heavily on Shami/ Unadkat and Malinga/Steyn.
They could also consider the Australian quickie, James Pattinson, who is a strike bowler and could get them early breakthroughs.
KKR also require a good local all-rounder. They might go all-out for someone like an Axar Patel. Axar has a wealth of experience and a career strike rate of 131. 71. He is also a very restrictive bowler with an economy of just 7.13.
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First Published: December 18, 2018, 2:01 AM IST