We are just a day away from the the prelude to the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Cash will be overflowing at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Bengaluru on Monday morning when the franchises battle it out during the player auction in order to bolster their ranks.
The annual event throws its share of surprises every year — from unfancied names going for record sums to international stars getting ignored during the event. While Delhi left-arm spinner Pawan Negi went for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore (and went bust later in the tournament, a la KC Cariappa), there were the likes of Martin Guptill, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Darren Sammy, etc who did not find favour among the bidders.
The upcoming auction could very well see rising talents from the Indian domestic circuit getting a big boost as far as their careers as concerned with an IPL offer. And then there are the likes of Ben Stokes and Mitchell Johnson who will be looking to make headlines for being the most expensive buy of the tournament. Let us take a look at 10 such prospects who could make it big in the upcoming event.
Morgan showed sparks of a promising career a decade ago while playing for native Ireland, and eventually made his way into England after shining for Middlesex in the County Championship. Over the years, he has not only emerged as one of the leading names in the limited-overs formats, but is also considered one of the primary architects of England’s dynamic, new approach to the shorter formats post the 2015 World Cup disaster.
Morgan’s recent form in the limited-overs legs of the India tour, in which he notched up his ninth ODI ton in the second game at Cuttack and a match-winning half-century in the first T20I at Kanpur, should make him one of the biggest prospects ahead of the auction. The franchises will keep his experience on Indian soil, having played five editions of the cash-rich league, in their mind at the time of bidding for him.
The New Zealand-born England all-rounder is one of the names that has set cricketing circles abuzz, and if the latest reports are to be believed, Stokes could very well turn out to be the most expensive buy in the IPL auction. A true all-rounder who is regarded by many as England legend Ian Botham’s successor, Stokes made his first impression during his team’s doomed 2013-14 Ashes campaign, hitting his maiden Test century at Perth and putting up a fight that would capture the imagination of both selectors and fans alike.
Among Stokes’ recent performances was his all-round show at the Eden Gardens in the third one-dayer, where he scored 57 before taking 3/63 to play a vital role in England’s consolatory win, burying the dark memories of the last over of the ICC World T20 final at the same venue a year ago.
His recent performances have fitting earned him a Rs 2 crore-price tag, and it would not come as a surprise if he goes for a much higher amount than that.
The left-arm pacer’s fiery run during Australia’s 5-0 hammering of England in the 2013-14 Ashes is very much part of cricketing folklore, with his mustache adding to his fearsome aura. Johnson, who had plied his trade of fast bowling for more than a decade before finally calling it quits abruptly during Australia’s home Test series against New Zealand in 2015, finished with a tally of 313 Test wickets, the fourth-highest Australian Test wicket-taker of all time, ahead of Brett Lee.
Just when the thought of him being a finished entity spending the remainder of his cricketing days in T20 leagues began to float around, Johnson produced a scintillating spell in the semi-final of the recently-concluded Big Bash League (BBL) that suddenly made him the talk of the town. Figures of 4-2-3-3 isn’t something that you would associate with the slam-bang format. As if to prove that haul was no fluke, the Perth Scorchers pacer went on to record another economical spell in the final (1/13 in four overs).
Expect Kings XI Punjab to try and use their ‘Right-to-Match’ card in order to get him back in their squad, having released him earlier in December.
England have truly made spanking progress in limited-overs cricket since their first-round exit in the ICC World Cup 2015, which could be one of the reasons behind the number of Englishmen in this list. One of the areas where England have greatly developed is their opening combination, with Roy and Alex Hales getting their side off to quick, ideal starts more often than not.
Roy was in blazing run in the ODIs against India, scoring three half-centuries at an average of 73.33, and this has made him a candidate worth watching out for the opener’s slot. Having already left a mark in leagues such as the BBL, Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) as well as in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), in which he is currently participating, it is high time he made his debut in the Indian T20 extravaganza.
The lanky pacer has been in a great spell of form post his recovery from chikungunya, although his exploits have primarily been restricted to the Test format, including India’s last outing in the format in the one-off Test against Bangladesh.
Ishant, the only Indian in the highest price bracket of Rs 2 crore, has immense experience in the league behind him, having played the first three seasons of the league for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), before offering his services to Deccan Chargers (2011), Sunrisers Hyderabad (2013 to 2015) and Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) (2016).
Ishant did not particularly have a great outing the last time, having played just four games last year for RPS, collecting just three wickets at an average of 49.33. He will, however, look to make amends for it while trying to resurrect his limited-overs career. Given the spells that he has fired in recent times, he could come in handy in the upcoming auction.
When Delhi Daredevils let go of Tahir in December along with six others, little did they realise how valuable a prospect Tahir would go on to be in the ODIs and T20Is over the next couple of months. The Pakistan-born South African leg-spinner is currently sitting on top of the ICC bowler’s rankings in the limited-overs formats, and his spell of 5/24 against New Zealand in the recent one-off T20I at the Eden Park is a shining example of his worth.
So much so, the Proteas leader Faf du Plessis went on to credit him as the reason behind South Africa’s success in the format over the last few months. Having rediscovered his ability to turn whatever he touches into gold, Tahir will look to set the stage on fire like he did in IPL 2015, in which he took 15 wickets at 20.93.
There is a reason why Rabada has been branded as the next big thing in world cricket. The young South African pacer, who bowls regularly in excess of 140 kmph, charted a meteoric rise from the U-19 World Cup into the senior Proteas team. Among his most memorable moments was recording a hat-trick on ODI debut, finishing with figures of 6/16 in the first ODI during South Africa’s tour of Bangladesh.
Injuries to the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander saw Rabada take charge of the South African attack in the tour of India. That was followed by a successful outing back home in the four-Test series against England, in which he became the youngest South African to record a 10-wicket match-haul in the longest format.
Rabada’s death bowling skills were on display during the 2015 tour of India, where he bowled the final over of the first ODI at Kanpur, successfully managing to restrict a finisher of MS Dhoni’s calibre from scoring 11 runs required to win the game.
While he was expected to bag an IPL contract last year, he chose to play for Kent in the County Championships instead. Indian fans though, will hope to see him in action in the league in about two months’ time.
Boult, one half of one of the most successful new-ball pairs in the world today along with Tim Southee, in enjoying a fiery run in international cricket at the moment, as was evident in his haul of 6/33 that helped New Zealand beat Australia and clinch the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy earlier this month.
Boult’s ability to get the ball to move both ways is one of the major factors behind his rise in international cricket, with the 2015 World Cup being a watershed moment in his career as he finished the joint-highest wicket-taker in the tournament alongside Mitchell Starc.
Boult’s value as a limited-overs bowler was recognized in the IPL 2015 auction, in which he was purchased by Sunrisers Hyderabad for a sum of Rs 3.8 crore. However, while he got to play seven games that year, he was largely benched in the subsequent edition, in which he dismissed Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina in the second qualifier — his only appearance in the entire tournament. Getting released by the current holders of the trophy only added insult to injury.
Boult certainly will hope to carry his current form into the 10th edition of the league, and certainly play more than just one game.
Anderson may have had a mixed run in recent cricketing history, but the well-built New Zealand all-rounder’s skills make him a dream buy for any T20 league in the world.
Blessed with the ability to bludgeon the ball at will, as well as a decent average and strike-rate with the ball in ODIs, Anderson made his debut for New Zealand in the 2012-13 tour of South Africa. While his first big moment in international cricket was getting his maiden Test century against Bangladesh, it was not until he smashed Shahid Afridi’s record for the fastest ODI century on New Year’s Day in 2014 that he would truly announce himself before the world. The impact of that knock was powerful enough to get him a contract with the Mumbai Indians worth Rs 4.5 crore in the player auction in the very next month.
Among Anderson’s most memorable knocks in the IPL was his unbeaten 95 in Mumbai’s final group game in the 2014 edition, which helped turn the game on its head and help the then defending champions scrape through to the play-offs with a tense win.
Another all-rounder in this list, albeit one of the best in the modern game. Mathews made his way into the Sri Lankan team in 2008 during their tour of Zimbabwe. However, his ability to shine both with bat and ball, combined with excellent fielding skills, made him an asset to the side.
With the bat, he gave Sri Lankan fans a couple of their most memorable run-chases ever, including an unbeaten 77 in 2010 that helped his side chase a 240-run target down after being reduced to 107/8 at one stage.
Barely five years after his international debut, he was handed captaincy in Tests as well as ODIs, following the stepping down of Mahela Jayawardene after the 2012-13 tour of Australia.
As far as his performances in the IPL go, Mathews has had originally been picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2009 event, though it was only a year later that he would get to play a full season. The 2010 edition saw him get 233 runs at an average of 33, as well as eight wickets. He went on to play three more seasons, including two (2012 and 2013) for the defunct Pune Warriors, as well as for Delhi Daredevils in 2015.