With 351 players to go under the hammer at the 10th Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, Firstpost excavates a list of five who might punch above their weight:
1. Murugan Ashwin
The archetypal story IPL thrives on, Murugan Ashwin was unearthed from the wilderness by Rising Pune Supergiants, at a whopping Rs 4.5 crore last year. With a bag of tricks up his sleeve; a leg break, a well-disguised googly and a flipper, he was often Mahendra Singh Dhoni's go-to bowler, despite the presence of his more celebrated namesake; Ravichandran Ashwin. He picked up six wickets in the first three matches before trudging off course a little. It was perhaps the emergence of Adam Zampa, and the need to bolster their fast-bowling stock that led to his release, but with leg-spinners consistently proving their worth in the shortest form of the game, Murugan could be a steal at the base price of Rs 10 lakh. However, there is a good chance that he might engage current champions Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab or even Gujarat Lions in a tug of war, given their scarce spin bowling resources.
2. Prithvi Shaw
Carrying forward Mumbai's legacy of pedigreed batsmen, Shaw first grabbed headlines with a record 546 in a Harris Shield match for Rizvi Springfield school as a 14-year old. Three years on, he became the first Mumbai batsman to smash a hundred on Ranji Trophy debut since Amol Muzumdar, against Tamil Nadu. He capped off the season with a fifty in the final against Gujarat. The most distinct feature of Shaw's batting is his uninhibited approach, which saw him consistently maintain a strike rate in excess of hundred at the Under-19 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka recently. After his former schoolmate, Sarfaraz Khan, was bagged by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) two years ago, 2017 promises to be his turn on the IPL podium.
3. Mohammad Nabi
Dangerous with the bat and miserly with the ball, all-rounder Mohammad Nabi boasts a stellar T20 record. His strike rate of 133.33 coupled with a unique ability to bowl during the power play and the death overs should stand him in good stead. Although the pitches in Kolkata have recently suited pacers and batsmen, if Eden Gardens plays true to its time-honoured reputation - as a slow, low turner, come the IPL, Nabi could be a handy pick for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who will be without the services of Andre Russell this year. At a base price of Rs 30 lakh, he may also be on the radar of Sunrisers Hyderabad or Delhi Daredevils.
4. Tymal Mills
Part of a rare breed of bowlers who can surprise batsmen with genuine pace and the lack of it, with impeccable control, Mills is becoming a household name in T20 leagues around the world. Consigned to playing T20 cricket, due to a congenital back problem, Mills, with all his variations, is something of a specialist in this form of the game. Considering he bowls during the toughest phases of the game – power play and slog – his impressive economy rate of just 7.47 makes him one of the most sought-after players this season. He is expected to fetch a bit more than his base price of Rs 50 lakh.
5. Colin de Grandhomme
The burly all-rounder from Zimbabwe, who plies his trade in New Zealand, has a reputation for hitting the ball fiercely, which a strike rate of 171 in 100 matches exemplifies. His bowling in the shortest format is bit of a bonus, but he could come in handy in the latter part of the tournament, as the pitches lose pace. In his last four outings in New Zealand's domestic T20 competition - Super Smash, de Grandhomme amassed 139 runs at a strike rate of over 224. His recent form and all-round abilities could lure teams into paying a little more than his base price of Rs 30 lakh.