Now that the two new teams have been decided — Pune and Rajkot — to replace Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for the 2016 and 2017 seasons of the IPL, all eyes will shift to the player draft that will take place on December 15.
The draft lends a small helping-hand for the two new entrants to settle themselves into the league against the other six established teams, with a first choice over 10 players (five each) from the two suspended sides.
Back when the IPL started in 2008, CSK stumped many by breaking the bank and bidding USD1.5 million for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and built a side around him that brought tremendous rewards, making them the most successful side in the competition so far. So, it will be important to get the five right players and build a team around them during the auction in February.
Sportstar looks at the players likely to picked up in the draft.
Chennai Super Kings
M. S. Dhoni: This one’s a no-brainer. The team that will get to pick the first player will be handed the biggest trump card and expect them to pick the Indian limited-overs side skipper. Apart from Dhoni the skipper, batsman and wicketkeeper, Brand Dhoni will be vital for the teams to attract sponsors.
Suresh Raina: He is IPL’s leading run-scorer and on home conditions, he has shown in the past the damage he can inflict on the opposition not to mention his prowess on the field and handy bowling.
R. Ashwin: The wily off-spinner’s stock is at an all-time high and he is probably the best spinner in the world now. And, to go with his ability to bowl during any stage of the game, he has got the requisite batting abilities too.
Brendon McCullum: Another easy decision for the teams. The New Zealand skipper set the tone for the competition in the very first match back in 2008 with a swashbuckling century.
Ravindra Jadeja: The left-arm spinner was off-colour in this year’s IPL but has bounced back well in the recently concluded Test series against South Africa and can be a match-winner with better consistency with the bat though he may not bank USD2 million that the CSK paid for him in 2012.
Ajinkya Rahane: The Mumbai batsman has flourished at the top of the order and has been the mainstay of the Rajasthan Royals’ batting line-up, setting the base for the big hitters down the order.
Steven Smith: The Australian Test and ODI skipper has had a meteoric rise to the top job and led the Royals in the latter half of the 2015 season, giving him valuable experience of being in charge in this competition.
Shane Watson: On his day, the Australian all-rounder can be devastating at the top of the order and though he has reduced his bowling, he can be useful in helpful conditions. Despite the 34-year old reducing his workload after retiring from Test cricket, a history of injuries will make the team think twice.
James Faulkner: The Man of the Match in the World Cup final can lead the pace attack and has an ODI century in his resume.
Karun Nair/ Sanju Samson: While Sanju Samson caught the attention of the public in the 2014 IPL season, his performances seems to have faded away a bit compared to Karun Nair who has had a more consistent run in domestic cricket in the past few years. Both can don the wicket-keeping gloves, though Samson has a slight edge in this area.