When the five franchises enter the ballroom of a plush hotel in the suburbs of Mumbai on Saturday afternoon for the mini-auction of the Women’s Premier League, it will be all about smart buys.
Unlike the inaugural auction, held in February this year, where all the teams had to start from scratch, the dynamics for the mini-auction are different. A collective salary cap of Rs 17.65 crore is available for the five teams, and there are only 30 slots to fill - with nine spots for overseas players.
With 103 Indian players - most of them uncapped - and 61 overseas players - of which 15 are from associate nations - in the mix, it won’t be easy for the franchises to make up their minds. However, since most of these franchises have teams in the IPL and other T20 leagues, those experiences will come in handy.
While defending champion Mumbai Indians has six slots to fill - including one overseas player - with the lowest purse available (Rs 2.1 crore), last season’s runner-up Delhi Capitals has retained its core players and just to fill in four slots.
“We want to improve the depth of the squad. We did really well in last year’s auction and constructed a good 18-player squad. We’ll just look to make our current squad slightly better in the upcoming auction,” said Jonathan Batty, the head coach of Delhi Capitals.
The franchise will be led by Meg Lanning, who retired from international cricket recently, and with Jess Jonassen, Marizanne Kapp, Alice Capsey and Laura Harris in its roster, it just needs to choose one more overseas player.
Plenty of options on offer
If Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and UP Warriorz look sorted, Gujarat Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore are expected to engage in heavy bidding. After a disappointing first season, both the franchises have released almost half their squad, and in an attempt to rebuild, Gujarat Giants has 10 slots to fill, while RCB needs seven more recruits, and they have Rs 5.95 crore and 3.35 crore available in their purse.
“In the past, we have seen franchises have let go of their expensive buys only to bring them back from the auction at a lesser price, and this could be the case with Giants and RCB as well,” one of the franchise officials, who have been part of the auctions earlier, stated.
In the recent past, quite a few young Indian players - including Kasvee Gautam and Uma Chetry - have fared well in the international and domestic circuit, and expectations are high for them to earn big money. In the auction dynamics, recent performances always count.
While recruiting overseas candidates, the franchises would certainly keep an eye on how they fared in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and the women’s The Hundred. Unsold in the last auction, Sri Lankan batter Chamari Athapaththu amassed 552 runs at a strike rate of 127.18 in the WBBL, coming in as a replacement, and she could attract high bids along with England’s Danni Wyatt.
A solid player of spin, Wyatt served a timely reminder of her ability with a 47-ball 75 in the first T20I against India at the Wankhede Stadium. Wyatt has had a memorable summer, scoring the highest runs in England’s domestic T20 tournament - Charlotte Edwards Cup - and she followed it up with a successful stint at the women’s Hundred.
She, however, opted out of the Women’s Big Bash League, took a break and then joined the England team for a training tour in Oman.
While seasoned campaigners like Deandra Dottin are also up for grabs, the franchises will also need to make wise decisions in terms of their team combinations, keeping the conditions in mind.
As reported by Sportstar earlier, this time around, the league could be held in Mumbai and Bengaluru in February, and the franchises need to buy their preferred players while keeping those factors in mind. And, with quite a decent purse available for local, uncapped players, expect young talents like Chetry, Karnataka’s power-hitting talent Vrinda Dinesh, and spinner Mannat Kashyap to attract attention.
The event begins at 3 pm, and the next few hours would change fortunes for quite a few. The stage is set, it’s auction time!
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