IPL auctions: Punjab has the most money, CSK must fill a void

Bowling allrounders and freed superstars will be in high demand when 292 players go under the hammer at the glitzy IPL auction in Chennai on Thursday, even as eight franchises look to bolster their 25-man squads in a bid to winning combination for the coming season.

Versatile seam-bowling a bonus

The value of a stitch-bowling allrounder in the IPL cannot be overstated. They are like first-rate stocks. Take the example of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Much of their success was due to the presence of Shane Watson. The all-rounder has been a key figure in the CSK engine room.

If he didn’t give his franchise a flying start from the get-go or break partnerships with his medium utilities, he would be seen standing up and making suggestions to his captain, MS Dhoni. Watson’s retirement from all forms of sport last year has created a vacuum.

But a lot of franchises wouldn’t take a kick out of some of the untested all-round youngsters like Kylie Jamieson and Cameron Green. A franchise manager explained how this can be difficult for a newcomer to the subcontinent. “A lot depends on the dynamics of the auction, how things go on the ground,” he said.

In search of superstars

After a disappointing 2020 IPL, a season in which they finished at the bottom of the points table, Rajasthan Royals have freed captain Steve Smith. At first glance, it looked like a pragmatic move. In 14 matches, the former Australian captain racked up 311 runs at an average of 131, an indication of his struggles. Does that mean Smith is off the Royals’ radar when he goes under the hammer at a base price of Rs 2 crore? Not enough. The Royals are playing smart because they would be serious about trying to get Smith back at a price much lower than the inflated Rs 12 crore they had shelled out for him.

Likewise, his Australian teammate Glenn Maxwell was released by the Punjab Kings after a terrible season where he was able to collect just 108 points in 13 matches. However, his dazzling stroke play against India in last year’s Australian summer limited-overs round was a reminder of his potential in this format. There is no doubt that like the Royals, the Punjab would also go out of its way for Maxwell who comes to this auction at a base price of Rs 2 crore, a low price from its last year’s price of Rs. 10.75 crore.

Punting on beginners

Almost every year, some little-known Indian actors are getting big auction buys. In the IPL 2020 auction, Rajasthan Royals shelled out Rs 2.40 crore for Yashasvi Jaiswal, mainly based on his Vijay Hazare double cent trophy against Jharkhand. The teenager played three games in last year’s IPL and scored 40 points. Likewise, it won’t be a surprise if a franchise breaks the bank on Mohammed Azharuddeen of Kerala, who rose to popularity after his 54-ball 137 not released against Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last month. As one source said, “A couple of franchises have big handbags to play with.” Kings XI Punjab has a handbag of Rs 53.20 crore available at auction followed by Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rs 35.90 crore and Rajasthan Royals with Rs 34.85 crore.

USP of Arjun

We learn, Arjun Tendulkar could attract more than one offer. The 21-year-old is good enough to play for the senior Mumbai team as a middle left arm stimulator. But as the son of Sachin Tendulkar, Arjun carries “some branding value” for the team he could play for in the next IPL.

Different ball game

IPL is a format where T Natarajan is valuable because of his skills, while James Anderson is seen as a misfit. England’s Dawid Malan might have reached the highest points in the ICC T20I player rankings, but facing Ashwin or Rashid Khan or Yuzvendra Chahal on a slow turner in India will be a whole different ball game. “It’s not a full auction and huge fireworks are unlikely. Based on the teams’ requirements, this could still create some surprises, ”concluded a franchise manager.

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