It's that time of the year when cricket players are bought and sold to the highest bidders. Yes, the Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction is nigh. The event will take place on 19 December, Thursday in Kolkata where 332 players will go under the hammer for the 13th season. A total of 997 players had initially registered but the final list has been pruned after the eight franchises submitted their shortlist of players.
Firstpost writers have done an in-depth analysis of all the teams, focusing on the areas they need to strengthen and the players they need to bid for.
Here, we have listed our IPL pre-auction previews of all the team. Click on the team name to read the full article.
Their middle-order batting is one area that needs strengthening. Between Ishan Kishan and the all-rounders, there are enough options to use, but MI would want a specialist number 4 batsman as a cushion for the occasional top-order collapse. What might make this tricky for Mumbai is that they would ideally want at least one Indian option because, on most days, their four overseas slots will be taken up by Quinton de Kock, an all-rounder and a couple of bowlers.
While they have enough spin reinforcements for Harbhajan Singh (Mitchell Santner, Karn Sharma), and probably aren’t too worried about Suresh Raina, the imperative questions they have to be asking within their think-tank are these: Do they have another overseas option for Watson, if he fails to get going? No. Do they possess a viable all-rounder as back-up to Bravo and all that he’s brought to the table over the years? Not quite.
Despite Kagiso Rabada, Delhi do not have a world-class attack. In fact, Rabada picked up as many wickets in the 2019 edition as their next two wicket-takers – Chris Morris and Ishant Sharma – managed between them. Ishant impressed in bursts last time, but he has not been a champion of the format, while Avesh Khan has not replicated his performance in long-form cricket to the shorter versions. They need at least two more fast bowlers.
In the quest to plug the middle-order, Sunrisers will not want to forget that they still need to have a plan B if David Warner or Jonny Bairstow have an off-season. With Wriddhiman Saha and Kane Williamson capable of taking on the responsibility, they wouldn't want to go for a high-profile pick, but a solid pick for the future could be on the radar.
Even with so many fast bowlers in the side, they lack a solid leader and it cost them big last year. So pacers aren't off the shopping list yet, and they still have lots of vacant spots in other departments. Assuming Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana get a promotion in the batting order, the middle-order needs some solid back up. While they can go for some value-for-money buys to fill those spots, the back-up to Chris Lynn and Andre Russell — who is an injury-risk will likely cost big.
The Punjab faithful can be glad that their side could strike a deal with Rajasthan Royals to bring in Krishnappa Gowtham – because by releasing Sam Curran and Ravichandran Ashwin, the total number of all-rounders left in their squad was: zero!
Rajasthan’s four big names – Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Jofra Archer – are all overseas players. If all four take field, they will have to include seven Indians. Unfortunately, barring Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag, they do not have enough Indian batsmen with impressive IPL records. A similar problem lies in the pace department as well. They have three leg-spinners, two of whom can bat, but the pace department is found wanting.
Seam bowling is another area RCB need to strengthen. Between Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj, they have a solid Indian core, but the release of Dale Steyn, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Tim Southee have left enough overseas gaps to fill. They will have their eyes on players like Antrich Nortje, Alzarri Joseph, and Beuran Hendricks, all of whom should come at reasonable prices.
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=The player retention deadline ended on 20 January and the trading window closes on 4 February.
The England selectors also named six travelling reserves for the first and second matches, to be held at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai from 5 February.
Stokes and Archer missed England's current matches in Sri Lanka as the squad was rotated to allow players to rest during the coronavirus pandemic.