IPL 2020 Auction: 338 players, 73 slots and bidding frenzy

A total of 338 cricketers will go under the hammer in the IPL 2020 auction with only 73 slots to be filled by the eight franchises.

The eight IPL franchises have a combined 73 slots to fill at the IPL 2020 auction.   -  IPL

Auctions can be a tricky affair. You never know who might trump you in the bidding wars and go home with the coveted prize. And this is what will play on the minds of the eight franchises as they come to the bidding table on Thursday to pick the best talents for Indian Premier League 2020.

This being a relatively smaller auction -- with only 73 slots to be filled by the eight franchises, of which 29 will be foreign buys -- the idea for the teams is to fill in the gaps and make smart, deft moves before the gavel falls.

So as 338 cricketers -- 190 Indians and 148 overseas players, including three from associate nations -- go under the hammer, the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Glenn Maxwell and Chris Lynn could up the ante.

All eyes will also be on England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan. Having featured for Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past, Morgan could be a lucrative option for franchises like Royal Challengers Bangalore -- which has 12 slots available, of which six are for overseas players. Even Kings XI Punjab, which parted ways with Ravichandran Ashwin and is yet to name a skipper, could go for Morgan, keeping his experience of captaincy in mind.

Read: Five overseas players who can trigger a bidding war

Kings XI Punjab, which has released some of its top players, is left with the biggest purse of Rs 42.70 crore and needs to fill in nine slots -- five Indians and four overseas players. Even franchises like Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals have 11 berths up for grabs each, and they would be hoping to seal the deal with the best candidates.

For the last few months, all the franchises have scouted talents and have even conducted trials to get a stock of things and now it will be a challenge to execute the plans. “Our technical team has travelled across the country to identify the utility players and now, it is important that we manage to get them on board. There have been instances in the past, when there has been a bidding war between franchises. Often the teams have missed out on specific players by a whisker,” one of the franchise officials, who will be part of the auction, told Sportstar.

This time around, seven overseas players -- Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Dale Steyn and Angelo Mathews -- have set the highest base price of Rs 2 crore. Among the capped Indian players, Robin Uthappa, who was released by Knight Riders last month, has the highest base price of Rs 1.5 crore, followed by Jaydev Unadkat, Yusuf Pathan and Piyush Chawla at Rs 1 crore.

Unadkat, who was the highest buy for the last couple of seasons, was released by Rajasthan Royals this season and it will be interesting to see whether the Saurashtra pacer manages to earn big, this time around. After all, in the 11 matches that he played last season, Unadkat could only bag 10 wickets with an economy rate of 10.66. In crunch times, the 28-year-old leaked runs and no strategy seemed to have worked for him. It was a similar situation in 2018, when he grabbed 11 wickets in 15 outings, with an economy rate of 9.65.

Read: Maxwell, Steyn, Lynn among 40 players with top base price for auction

“For the franchises, result is the ultimate thing. So, for players too, there is a pressure to perform and there have been instances when the top players have failed to justify the big amount spent on them,” one of the experts, who has been following the trends for long, said.

Over the last few years, uncapped domestic cricketers have made their presence felt and in a smaller auction like this, where the sole focus is to fill in the gaps, the franchises will also give importance to the bright local talents. “There is always a surprise element in the local cricketers and the franchises too tend to use that. So, this time also, they will have a key role to play,” one of the franchise officials said, indicating that the youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Singh and Abhimanyu Easwaran could attract a bidding war.

Soon after touching base on Wednesday, the franchise officials were briefed about the auction -- which will start from 3.30 pm, with gavel master Hugh Edmeades beginning the proceedings.

As West Bengal witnessed violent protests over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, there were speculations that the auction could be shifted out of Kolkata. However, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) deciding to go ahead with the proceedings as scheduled, the City of Joy is set for its first-ever brush with the IPL auction.

The stage is set, it’s time for some intense bidding! 

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