IPL Auction: Who could be the hottest buys?

The latest auction will witness 351 players going under the hammer and that includes 230 Indians and 121 overseas players.

A file photo of auctioneer Richard Madley.   -  PTI

It is time for Richard Madley’s voice and the pounding of his gavel to echo across the conference hall at the ITC Gardenia Hotel here on Saturday as the IPL player auction looms into view. The auctioneer has been the one constant at the annual event that features team-owners and mentors racking their brains and loosening their purse strings to form an ideal Twenty20 squad.

 

The latest auction will witness 351 players going under the hammer and that includes 230 Indians and 121 overseas players. With a majority of teams having retained their core players, attention will be riveted on the strategy adopted by the two new teams — Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions — as they try to beef up their respective units led by M. S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina.

 

Including the duo, both the Pune and Rajkot-based teams have picked five players each and should do the lion’s share of the bidding. Delhi Daredevils too can be an active player, flush as it is with the highest available purse of Rs. 37.15 crore.

 

Missing from the auction will be the two suspended teams — Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals — which in the previous auctions used to follow a set pattern. CSK preferred continuity and Royals plumped for value-buys.

 

In the previous two auctions, Yuvraj Singh triggered a fierce bidding war and franchises virtually had to break the bank to net him. In 2014, Royal Challengers Bangalore spent Rs. 14 crore and last year, Delhi Daredevils signed him up for Rs. 16 crore! Having been released by Daredevils, Yuvraj is back in the mix as a marquee player with a base price of Rs. 2 crore. Giving Yuvraj company in the elite price-band are cricketers ranging from Kevin Pietersen to Shane Watson. The southpaw, who has wended his way back to the Indian team in the shortest format, will be keenly watched. And so will be the likes of Travis Head, who had a good stint in the Big Bash in Australia, and England’s Jos Buttler and New Zealand’s Martin Guptill.

Auctions also have often tided over reputations and last year when Kolkata Knight Riders coughed up Rs. 2.40 crore for K. C. Cariappa, a mystery spinner from Karnataka, it just showed how franchises were keen to take the plunge when it came to propping up surprise-players, who have slipped under the radars of video-analysts. KKR has subsequently released Cariappa, who played just one match last season and bowled two overs and grabbed a solitary wicket.

But the windfall for Cariappa does lend hope to the 219 uncapped players, who are in the fray, this time around.

A BCCI press release stated: “In terms of available spots, if every franchise were to have the maximum of 27 players in their squad, 116 players will be taken in the auction (of which up to 36 may be overseas players).”

If that transpires, Madley may suffer a sore throat. In the meanwhile he has churned up some Twitter-excitement after mentioning that his gavel, which helped sell players like Dhoni, is up for grabs.

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