IPL 2016 auction: Yuvraj, Watson, Buttler and seven other players who could be the hottest buys

It's that time of the year, when cricketers go under the hammer.

The IPL Player Auction for the ninth edition of the annual league is set to take place on 6 February and as many as 351 players will be under the hammer, including 203 Indians and 131 foreigners.

The 2016 Auctions have an extra edge to them. Two new franchises — Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Super Giants — will be looking to build their teams from scratch as two franchises remain suspended: Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings.

Here are our picks for the top 10 hottest buys this IPL auction.

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj SIngh. Getty Images

Yuvraj Singh. Getty Images

Base price: 2,00,00,000

To say Yuvraj Singh is an IPL veteran would be an understatement. He has represented four teams, (Kings XI Punjab, Pune Warriors India, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils) played 98 matches and scored 2099 runs. He even has 35 wickets. He was the costliest player during IPL 8 when Delhi Daredevil bought him for a record Rs 16 crore, before dumping him in a year. Now, among the eight marquee players, Yuvraj he is all set for possibly his fifth team and will surely be much sought after, having made his international return. Who knows, we may witness another bidding war!

Aaron Finch 

Aaron Finch. Getty Images

Aaron Finch. Getty Images

Base Price: Rs 1,00,00,000

Reasons why marquee player Aaron Finch can be one of hottest picks in the IPL Auction:

- Captaincy experience having lead Australia in T20s

- International form, being one of the top ranked batsman in ICC Rankings till recently

- Ability to give the team a solid start

- Vast IPL expereince having played for five IPL teams - Mumbai Indians, Pune Warriors, Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils

- Availability due to Australia's relatively free international calendar this summer

Martin Guptill

Martin Guptill. Getty Images

Martin Guptill. Getty Images

Base Price: Rs 50,00,000
There are several mystifying things about the IPL — garish outfits being just one.

But one mystery that tops it all is why a player like Martin Guptill hasn't played IPL yet. Guptill had a brilliant 2015 and a fantastic run in the World Cup where he became the first New Zealand player to score a double century. With two new teams and the Kiwi building on his last year's form to amass 252 runs from five T20s this year at an average of 63 and strike rate of 181.29 (in addition to his fantastic run in ODIS), this could be the year we finally see Guptill in the IPL.

Kevin Pietersen

Base Price: Rs 2,00,00,000

Kevin Pietersen. Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen. Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen has a long-standing relationship with the IPL. When he made his debut in 2009, the English player was the costliest purchase, playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. In 2015, when England said that he wasn't part of their plans, he headed for the IPL. Now more of a freelance T20 player, Pietersen has been making merry in Caribbean Premiere League and Big Bash League. In fact, Pietersen was phenomenal for Melbourne Stars in the latest edition of BBL, finishing as the third highest run-getter. With no international obligations, he will be available for the full edition and franchises are sure to fight it out to have the talisman in their team.

Travis Head

Travis Head. Getty Images

Travis Head. Getty Images

Base price: Rs 30,00,000

The Australian youngster can turn out to be one of the dark horses of the upcoming auctions. He has had a good run in the last few months with success in the Big Bash League and an international call-up. Playing for Adelaide Strikers, he scored 299 runs, the fifth highest, in nine matches at an average of 42.71. The 22-year-old left-hander made his T20I debut in 2016 against India in the recently concluded series and although he wasn't able to make his mark in the whitewash, he is definitely a youngster to watch out for.

Irfan Pathan

Irfan Pathan. Getty Images

Irfan Pathan. Getty Images

Base Price: Rs 1,00,00,000

Another IPL veteran, Irfan Pathan has played for Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad. After being released by CSK, the all-rounder is back under the hammer and is sure to be picked up quick. A handy all-rounder, the younger Pathan has done well in the shorter versions of the game, especially on the domestic circuit. He led from the front for Baroda to guide them to the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, showing glimpses of his old self as he ended up as the highest wicket-taker with 17 at 15.76. He also contributed with crucial match-winning knocks down the order, racking up 200 runs at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 152.67. Being among the few, established Indian all rounders in the fray, Pathan is sure to be lapped up.

Dale Steyn

Dale Steyn. Reuters

Dale Steyn. Reuters

Base Price: 1,50,00,000

When a fast bowler like Dale Steyn is in the auction line-up, variables like age, form, consistency do not matter. Having a menacing international pacer who can run down, hit the deck hard and glare at the batsmen for his allocated four overs is an offer few IPL teams, new or old, can hardly refuse. Add to that Steyn's success in the IPL with 92 wickets and his turnaround for Sunrisers Hyderabad, the demand for the marquee player might make the the off-field auction as exciting his bowling.

Shane Watson

Shane Watson. PTI

Shane Watson. PTI

Base Price: Rs 2,00,00,000

Another IPL veteran, who has been a loyal Royal for former champions Rajasthan Royals, found himself in the IPL auctions after his team was suspended and the franchises, especially the debutants, will look at this as an opportunity to have a player of his skill and experience on board. Watson is also backed by his decent Big Bash League performances where he was the second highest run-getter for Sydney Thunder.

Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja. Getty Images

Usman Khawaja. Getty Images

Base Price: Rs 1,00,00,000

A few months back, people would have been surprised to see Usman Khawaja in the list of hottest IPL buys. But after his tremendous performance in the Big Bash League, it will be very surprising if he isn't roped in by franchises for his first IPL stint. Khawaja added the boom to Sydney Thunder in the BBL, scoring 345 runs in four matches, with two centuries and two half-centuries at a staggering average of 172.50 and strike rate of 163.50. He even returned to the international side for the T20Is against India and is in reckoning for the World T20. If he can manage to carry his Australian summer form to the Indian summer, there is a good chance that we will see a repeat of Thunder.

Jos Buttler 

Jos Buttler. Getty Images

Jos Buttler. Getty Images

Base Price: Rs 1,50,00,000

There are several reasons fans should look forward to Jos Buttler making his IPL debut:

- He is one of most talented emerging players in recent times.
- He can almost single-handedly turn a game with his insane big-hitting abilities
- He is in phenomenal form with back-to-back tons in his last two ODIs in last four ODI innings, including a 46-ball century, the fastest century by an England batsman.

There are several reasons franchises will look forward to Jos Buttler making his IPL debut:

- He is one of the youngest and most successful wicketkeepers in the auction.
- He is a prolific limited-over batsman with an ODI strike rate of 118.33 after 66 matches.
- He will be available for the entire IPL and has the blessing of the ECB, unlike certain other England players.

Firstpost Game Plan will host a live analysis of the auction with Ayaz Memon at 4 pm on Friday.