DELHI TO BANK ON GEN-NEXT
The mini auction, as it was termed, provided Delhi Daredevils a great opportunity to take the bull by the horns and revamp their team for the 2016 IPL season. The team had fared miserably for three years successively, despite paying top dollar for some of its signings, including Yuvraj Singh at Rs 16 crore, and hence the owners utilised the mini auction to try and put in place their ‘GenNext’ strategy.
A war chest of Rs 37.5 crore, the highest in the auction, was made possible by letting go some of the star players. Then with Rajasthan Royals’ strategist, former Mumbai cricketer Zubin Bharucha in their corner, they went on a shopping spree for youngsters.
However, when their final team was in place the surprising aspect was the excess of wicket-keepers: Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant, Quinton de Kock and Sam Billings. They paid pretty handsomely for them too.
Some of the other purchases too did not come cheap: Pawan Negi (Rs 8.5 crore), Chris Morris (7 crore) and Karun Nair (Rs 4 crore). Yet when an overall assessment of DD was made the team seemed pretty lightweight and a bit suspect in balance. The absence of a big hitter like Chris Gayle, David Miller or Keiron Pollard was conspicuous and could hurt Delhi through the season.
The spin department, though, looks particularly good in the hands of Negi, Amit Mishra, Imran Tahir and Shahbaz Nadeem. The pace attack however is dependent on the fitness of Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami and Nathan Coulter-Nile, all three of whom have injury issues. This probably explains the anxiety to rope in the South African Morris and the Australian left arm pacer Joel Paris.
First impression is that Delhi Daredevils have not done as well as they could have at the auction. Hopefully there’ll be a different tale to tell at the end of May.
Strength: Spin bowling with four excellent bowlers, Pawan Negi, Amit Mishra, Imran Tahir and Shahbaz Nadeem, in the mix.
Weakness: Lacks a big-hitting impact batsman
Opportunity: Finished poorly last three seasons. So have nothing to lose and can play fearlessly.
Threat: Two opposing thought streams in management.
The team: Amit Mishra, Jayant Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammad Shami, Saurabh Tiwary, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shreyas Iyer, Zaheer Khan, Albie Morkel, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock (all 4 from South Africa), Nathan Coulter-Nile (Australia), Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Pawan Negi, Sanju Samson, SK Ahmed, Pratyush Singh, Pawan Suyal, Chama Milin, Akhil Herwadkar, Mahipal Lomror, Chris Morris, Sam Billings, Joel Paris.
KINGS XI HAVE OUTSTANDING IMPACT BATSMEN
Priety Zinta admitted that King’s XI Punjab were desperate to get a good death-overs bowler and hence went aggressively after Mohit Sharma and bagged him for a whopping Rs 6.5 Cr. But have they got their act together?
Their great asset is their trio of overseas batsmen – David Miller, Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh, each capable of winning matches off his own bat. Under ideal circumstances, they, along with Murali Vijay, Wriddhiman Saha, Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Manan Vohra should be able to put healthy totals on the board.
But the question mark still hangs over their bowling. If the three overseas batsmen are played in all their matches, it would leave only one berth open for another foreigner. That would be a toss-up between Mitchell Johnson and Kyle Abbot with all rounder Marcus Stoinis not in the same bowling league. Thus it is the Indian bowlers, Rishi Dhawan, Shardul Thakur, Sandeep Sharma and spinners Axar Patel and KC Cariappa who have to beat brunt of the bowling.
KXIP’s explosive batsmen could win them a few matches. But it is unlikely that they can go through an entire tournament on the strength of batsmen alone.
Strength: Impact batsmen David Miller, Glenn Maxwell
Opportunity: To play aggressively and hit opponents hard
Threat: Hostile environs of away matches and poor home support in Mohali will dent bowlers’ confidence when opponents go after them.
The team: Axar Patel, Anureet Singh, Gurkeerat Singh, Manan Vohra, Murali Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Rishi Dhawan, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Wriddhiman Saha (wk) David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, Arman Jaffer, Pradeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Kyle Abbot, Marcus Stoinis, Faarhan Behradien.
SKIPPER DHONI IS RISING PUNE’S FORCE MULTIPLIER
The two new entrants Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions have done exceedingly well both with their pick of players and at the auction.
Like the other teams they too had their core in place before the auction and thus used the event to build a team around
Pune, impressively went for impact players Kevin Pieterson and paceman Mitchell Marsh but also kept the cash flowing to rope in Indian bowlers Ishant Sharma (Rs 3.8 Cr) and rookie leg spinner M Ashwin (Rs. 4.4 Cr) . Their top order of Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Pieterson and skipper MS Dhoni is as good as any team in the tournament.
But a lot would be riding on Irfan Pathan, especially on the bowling front. If he strikes form he could lift the quality of their bowling. Otherwise they are in for tough days, especially on pitches not conducive to spin bowling. Of the newer bowlers Deepak Chahar would bear watching.
Pune have the ideal captain for T20 games in Dhoni. He will inspire the younger lot when they come under opposition fire.
Strength: Dhoni the captain, finisher and impact batsmen Pieterson, Steve Smith, Du Pleissis. And spin bowler R Ashwin
Weakness: Local fast bowling options.
Opportunity: Good blend of players. Could make instant impact.
Threat: Opponents could target inexperienced bowlers’ temperament.
The team: MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis, M Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Rajat Bhatia, Ashok Dinda, RP Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Ankit Sharma, Ankush Bains, B Aprajit, Deepak Chahar, Jaskaran Singh, Mitchell Marsh, Kevin Pieterson, Thisara Perera, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa.
LIONS’ MYSTERY BOWLER, IMPACT ALL ROUNDERS
The Rajkot team did brilliantly at the pick when they chose Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullam, Dwayne Bravo and James Faulkner, all superb fielders, impact batsmen and at least three of them good T20 bowlers. However their showing at the auction was a bit of a letdown.
They’ve three opening batsmen, McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dwayme Smith and three wicket-keepers Dinesh Karthik, Eklavya Dwivedi, Ishan Kisan, most of whom will warm the benches.
Raina’s UP teammates Praveen Kumar and Dwivedi may not have been the best of choices as indeed Gujarat’s Jaydev Shah. The Rajkot franchise might have got a good overall team but getting the right mix of seven Indians and 4 foreigners in the playing eleven could be a bigger problem than it seems at first glance. However, Gujarat Lions have a number of match winners and that could about spur some of the younger elements in the team to lift the quality of their game.
An Indian opening batsman could have been as asset. Nevertheless Gujarat will be a very tough nut to crack this season. Watch out for 20-year-old Shivil Kaushik, the left arm spinner from Karnataka. He made a huge impact in the KPL with his unorthodox bowling action and batsmen struggled to pick him. With the Lions’ classy fielding unit to support him he could make a stunning impact in this year's IPL.
— Sampath (@SAMPATH_B24) February 7, 2016
Strength: Impact players McCulum, Raina, Faulkner
Weakness: Death overs bowlers.
Opportunity: Unleash Kaushik on turning tracks on unsuspecting batsmen. A Paul Adams-style mystery bowler he’s a tough cricketer.
Threat: Expectations from a new franchise from its passionate home crowd. Could go against it if things go wrong at the start.
The team: Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, Dwyane Bravo, James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Dinesh Karthik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Eklavya Dwivedi, Ishan Kisan, Pradeep Sangwan, Pravin Tambe, Shadab Jakati, Jaydev Shah, Paras Dogra, Shivil Kaushik, Sarabjit Ladda, Umang Sharma, Akshdeep Nath, Amit Mishra, Dwayne Smith, Dale Steyn, Aaron Finch, Andrew Tye.