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Going under the hammer

With the auctions of IPL 2020 se to take place , Patriot looks at the teams and who they should buy ahead of the start of the season

On Thursday, December 19, the auction for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League will go underway for the first time in Kolkata. This year 332 players are set to go under the hammer, with 19 of them being capped Indian players, and 24 new entrants. All these players will be vying for only 73 of the empty slots in the eight teams.

All the franchises would be looking to boost up their squads, so that they can enter the season with new fervor. The auction, like all previous years will see the owners splash crores of rupees on the different players as they engage in bidding wars.

Here we look to analyze the different teams, their behaviour in the previous auctions and which players tey could pick based on their buying history and the requirements of the team.

Mumbai Indians

A team owned by the richest family in India, with a net worth of Rs 220 crores is going into the auction with the lowest purse value of Rs 13 crore – now that is a tough pill to swallow.

The Ambanis – Neeta and her son Akash- have been always hyper active at the auction table sitting through the process  with their respective coaches and the technical staff down the years – from John Wright to Anil Kumble to Mahela Jayawardene and Ricky Ponting.

But what we  notice is that it is not the cricketing stalwarts that raise the auction bat, but the Ambanis. If the Ambanis like a particular player they will go all out for them, and will pay little heed tpo what the experts have to say.

Be it buying an aged Lasith Malinga or Yuvraj Singh and even Mitchell Johnson, Akash Ambani always goes for the star name even though the players are past their prime. The cricketing heads do prevail however, when it comes to buying the lesser known talents.

From the cricketing perspective, Mumbai Indians have a well balanced squad, having added Trent Boult to their arsenal. But despite all this, they have maintained a core group of players which have led the team to win four trophies- the most by any.

Having released Evin Lewis, they would look for an opening batsman, and that is why they could go for Robin Uthappa who can partner Quinton De Kock at the top of the order. Keeping in mind the Ambanis’ penchant in going for big names, they could rush in for Chris Lynn, who has been moderately successful for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The two-time IPL champions go into the auction with a purse value of Rs 35.65 crore, the second highest among all the teams this season. They have released as many as 11 players, and have as many slots to fill, including four overseas.

Contrary to the Mumbai Indians however, you won’t see any of the owners sitting around the KKR table ever. Shah Rukh Khan has never sat in the auction, though Jay Mehta and Juhi Chawla tend to make an appearance here and there.

But the strategy rests on the shoulders of Red Chillies CEO Venky Mysore and the team of cricketing experts including the team of coaches. In the past we have seen Jacques Kallis and Simon Katich making their presence felt in the auction.

KKR have always been smart buyers. They never go overboard or announce themselves in the auctions and always pick players under the radar. When they bought the likes of Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn and Andre Russell, they were yet to set the cricketing world on fire.

KKR also boasts of good talent scouts, so expect them to go for good players at very decent prices.

The men in purple will be looking to get back Chris Lynn, this time at a lower price, and also go for a good lot of fast bowlers. Pat Cummins will be their primary target, while Sheldon Cottrell and Junior Dala may provide backups. They may be alo going in for local boy Ishan Porel who has been a sensation in the domestic circuit.

Kings XI Punjab

The team from Punjab will be going into this years auction with the highest purse of Rs 42.5 crore. They have only nne slots to fill, which means they could be buy big and get all the players they want.

However, if we look at the history of KXIP at the auctions, they appear to be the weakest and the most clueless when it comes to auction strategies. They will go in and buy any big name player thus making one department of their side strong, while the other weak.

In the past we habve seenthe men in red going for big batsmen like Gayle, Miller, Nair and KL Rahl into the squad, leaving the bowling department quite weak – with Ashwin and Shami the only recognizable names.

Priety Zinta, one of the owners of the franchise, always seems to go for her gut feelings and emotional connect rather than adapting a strategy. We have seen her picking South African Beuran Hendricks just because he played for them, even though he did not have a good record. They even went all out for Yuvraj Singh in 2017, just because he has a strong connect to the region.

This year, they have released their captain and frontline spinner R Ashwin and will be looking to go for a new spinner, and though there might be no big spin options available, Piyush Chawla seems to fit the bill in terms of experience. With the release of David Miller they would be looking for a middle order batsman, and so they can jump in for the likes of Sam Billings or Eoin Morgan.

Chennai Super Kings

The three time winners have never gone overboard in their previous stints of the IPL auction. They have always gone in for experience ahead of youth, and have always remained low key in the auctions.

They go into the auction with a purse of only 14 crores, but they go in with a settled squad and would not like to make much changes. In the past auctions too, they have always gone in with set players in mind and with a settled squad.

They would look for replacements here and there, nd could go in for an all rounder who can be a back up to Dwayne Bravo and hence go for either Marcus Stoinis or Chris Morris.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru

The RCB have always been one of the unluckiest teams in the IPL. They have ahd the biggest stars of international cricket in their ranks and have failed to win a single trophy. But that is their biggest weakness- too many stars, but lack of depth in the side.

This lack of depth stems from their buying strategies in the auction. They have gone hammer and tongs for the big name players, buying players for excessive money and then losing their purse in the middle of the proceedings without even completing their squad, and then going for whoever is available.

This year they have the core group of players, and they have a purse of Rs 28 crore and they would have to fill 12 slots, with six foreigners included. They could go for the likes of Chris Lynn for explosiveness in the top order. Carlos Brathwiate, Sam Curran etc can fill in their all rounder slot having lost Marcus Stoinius and Colin De Grandhomme.

Delhi Capitals

The Delhi outfit, when it was under the sole ownership of the GMR group, were absolutely clueless in previous auctions. They would buy a bulk of players in the auction, who would eventually fail in the season, and they they would clean their squad and start every auction afresh.

In this way, the Delhi team never had a full strength squad, and were never settled. For the first time s,when GMR group joined hands with Parth Jindal owned JSW group- who co-own the ISL side Bengaluru FC- that they enter an auction with a core group of players and looking to build a solid foundation around that core.

Add to the fact that in the IPL trade window, they got the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin into their side.

So, the Capitals this time would be looking for a pace option, with Rabada and Ishant the only two recognizable names in the department. Sheldon Cottrell might come in handy, his left arm seam bowling might come as a handy variation.

They also need a few fgood all rounders having released Chris Morris and Sherfance Rutherford. So expect them to go all out to retain Morris for a lower price or go for the likes of Marcus Stoinis or Sam Curran

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals have always maintained a strategy- buy unknown quantities in the auction and make stars out of them. This trick definitely worked in the first season, but slowly and steadily their element of surprise seemed to fade out.

Ever since the Royals have returned to the IPL after ther two year ban, they have seemed a bit off colour both in the field and in the auction room.

Even in the trade window, they released two of their best players- Ajinkya Rahane and Mayank Markande. So, Rajasthan will go all oput for an Indian opener- Robin Uthappa being a good option. They would also go for an Indian spinner, and Pyush Chawla looks the only good option. They might even go for some unknown quanitity, like they have done in oprevious seasons

Sunrisers Hyderabad

The Sunrisers Hyderabad are perhaps the only team in the IPL, where you never see the owners interfere in cricketing matters. They have a team of experts and coaches- consisting of stalwarts like Tom Moody, VVS Laxman and Mutthiah Muralitharan, who call the shots.

Hence they have always had good buys in the auction- be it the Afghan duo of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi or the explosive Johnny Bairstow or the pace spearhead in Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

SRH know what they want and they go all out for those players. With Rs 17 crore to spend on seven  available slots, the orange army will look to fill in the little gaps that they have in the already strong squad.

With the release of Martin Guptill and Yusuf Pathan, they would be looking at back up opener and middle order options. Plyaers like Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Rahul Tripathi can be great as openers. Local boy Hanuma Vihari too can make his way into the squad as a solid middle order batsman.