Normally, the fifth IPL auction, which will take place on Saturday, would have been a staid affair mainly because most of the teams are set and did the big business last year. However, the disqualification of the Kochi Tuskers means that there will be a lot of quality up for grabs once again.
And that should be enough to get the clubs will be interested once again.
Sources say that even though 144 players will go under the hammer, only around 25-30 players will actually be bought by the franchisees which is why one can expect fierce bidding for the players who fulfill specific requirements.
Sadly enough VVS Laxman is not one of those names. Even with Kochi he was sidelined – his fitness and his shot-making skills don’t exactly lend themselves to the format. And given his failures in Australia, expect him to not find a buyer – certainly not at the reserve base price of $400,000, the highest at the auction.
Each of the nine franchises have $2 million to spend at the auction ahead of the fifth edition of the IPL which will be played between 4 April and 27 May.
Here's our list of the top 10 picks (in no particular order):
Ravindra Jadeja: His stock is rising and when matches are being played in India, he has the capability of changing the game with either bat or ball. Add to that his electric fielding and you know that he will go for a lot more than his base price of $100,000. He seems have figured out what he need to do in T20 cricket and all the teams will be lining up to get him into their squad. The Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab will be especially keen on him following their rather pedestrian showing last season.
Parthiv Patel: He's good with the bat and is still one of India’s better keepers. There are teams like Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals who have relied on makeshift keeper and they could do with Parthiv in the line-up. His base price of $200,000 won't be a deterrent.
R Vinay Kumar: He may have struggled on the faster pitches in Australia but his subtle variations and experience mean that teams will want to have him in their squad. His base price of $100,000, the same as Jadeja, means that there will be a fair bit of activity when he’s up on the auction block.
Vernon Philander: Anyone who has a bowling average of 13.23 after four Tests is something special. And when he's done that despite having Dale Steyn at the other end, you know he's got what it takes. In four Tests, he has four five-wicket hauls and his ability to take early wickets could make him a much sought after commodity.
Brad Hogg: He's 40, going on 41, and he has a googly that not even Mahendra Singh Dhoni can pick. That's reason enough to pick him. Add to that his superb season in the Big Bash Down Under for grand finalists the Perth Scorchers and you know you have a man-in-form. Teams should be lining up to get him into their squad. He's fit and doesn’t really have any international commitments to worry about. He has a base price of $100,000.
Mitchell Johnson: Australia's selectors may not rate him very highly at the moment but he's back to full fitness and should be a handful. He can also use the long handle to good effect lower down the order. He has the talent to change the game with his bowling and should be the target of many teams. A base price of $300000 means that he doesn’t come cheap but he should be worth the money.
Doug Bracewell: The rising star of New Zealand cricket. The 21-year-old hasn't played too much international cricket but in the few matches he has played against Australia, he stood out as a man for the future. Teams will want to get him in their team before he becomes too expensive. His base price of $50,000 will mean that teams have the option of starting their bids on a low.
Graeme Swann: The finest off-spinner in the world until Saeed Ajmal came along. But the Pakistani isn’t going to going to be playing the IPL and that means Swann is hot property. He has a mean sense of humour and can wield the bat pretty well too. He’ll go under the hammer with a base price of $400,000.
Mahela Jayawwardene: He is Sri Lanka's captain again and remains a calm, collected father figure. Rajasthan may want him in their mix as could the Delhi Daredevils. Sehwag has been asking for some good talent to strengthen his squad and Mahela might be the right man for them. Bidding will start at a base price of $300,000.
Andre Russell: Recognisable by his Mohawk, the 23-year-old has the talent to take the world by a storm. He can crank up his bowling speed to 140 when the mood takes him. His batting isn’t too bad either – in the recent ODIs against India he hit scores of 40*, 29 and 53 in successive matches. And all of those knocks came at a pretty quick clip. He has a base price of $50,000.
Other names worth a mention: Darren Bravo, Muthaih Muralitharan, Azhar Mahmood, Kevin O'Brien and Jacob Oram.
Note: S Sreesanth is expected to miss most of the IPL season due to injury.