There is no Richard Madley, but the IPL 2019 auction is set to be no less interesting with 346 players set to go under the hammer on 18 December at Jaipur. There are 226 Indian players and 120 overseas players up for grabs with some prominent names and talented young guns vying for a taste of the biggest T20 league in the world.
Franchises are stocked with a lot of retained players as it is but also have funds available to splurge on some big names, which could see the auction garner huge attention. There are eight sides and only 70 remaining slots to fill up, which means that while a lot of names could go unsold, but a few of them would end up attracting hefty bids. IPL franchises have, in the past, favoured reputed players leading to intense bidding wars for them. This auction too could see some of these established names going for big money.
Here are five international players likely to spark a bidding war:
Base price: Rs 1 crore
The South African opener surprisingly went unsold in the 2018 IPL auction despite amassing 420 runs at an average of 60.00, including two hundreds, in the season before that for Kings XI Punjab. Not considered a T20 player, Amla has time and again proven his detractors wrong but the general notion that he cannot hit big shots worked against Amla.
Last season, several teams struggled for lack of quality openers and Amla's name could draw huge attention this time around. He has been a tad conservative and set his base price at Rs 1 crore and this could prompt some of the franchises, in search of stability and consistent runs from top-order, to go after him in the first round itself, when the purses are still full.
Potential suitors: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab
T20 career numbers: Matches - 145, Runs - 4,192, Average - 32.24, Strike Rate - 127.68
Base price: Rs 2 crore
Sam Curran is expected to be availabe for the entire duration of the T20 league in 2019 and given his recent exploits, would be an attractive option for any of the franchises. Curran showcased his talent to the IPL franchises when he constantly attacked the Indian bowlers during the recently-concluded Test series in England. As a left-arm seamer who can swing the ball upfront, Curran packs quite a punch in more than one department.
With the IPL expected to take place in South Africa, fast bowling all-rounders - a scarce resource in India, will be in huge demand and Curran is perhaps the best of the shortlisted lot. At 20, he has already given a glimpse of his immense potential and showed a penchant for the big stage, which several franchises could take a liking to, which means franchises that are short on pace bowling all-rounders could go big for him.
Potential suitors: Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi Daredevils
T20 career numbers: Matches - 47, Runs - 478, Strike rate - 118.9, Wickets - 42, Average - 28.47, Economy - 8.24
Base price: Rs 50 lakh
The talented Windies middle-order batsman was a huge hit when the Carribean side toured India in October. He was brutal against the spinners, played the fast bowlers fearlessly and displayed every quality that franchises look for in a T20 player. Hetmyer finished the ODI series as Windies' highest run-scorer with 259 runs in five ODIs at an average of 51.80. He was less influential in the T20Is but given his ability to go berserk from ball one, Hetmyer will have attracted a lot of IPL scouts.
The Windies star should be in demand for his big-hitting abilities against the spinners. There is also the enticing option of opening the innings with him and making use of the powerplay overs given how he likes to play areial shots. Several franchises would be keeping thir eyes on Hetmyer and he could lead to a bidding war on 18 December.
Potential suitors: Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings
T20 career numbers: Matches - 18, Runs- 498, Averag - 31.12, Strike rate - 144.34
Base price: Rs 1 crore
The Australian leggie had a promising IPL season in 2016 with Rising Pune Supergiant, when he registered a sensational six-wicket haul and forced good players of spin to dance to his tunes. He has, however, flown under the radar since then. And an average IPL 2017 saw him go out of favour. He went unsold in the 2018 auction when teams had to overhaul their sides but after a recent promising show against India in the T20Is Down Under, Zampa could be in demand again.
He dismissed Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma in the series Down Under and was the pick of Australian bowlers, conceding runs at miser economy rate of 5.50. Wrist-spinners are an attractive proposition in this format of the game given their wicket-taking abilities and quite a few franchises are expected to go after Zampa during the 2019 auctions. His T20 numbers also make for pretty viewing and the 2017 IPL season should be seen as an aberration as against his overall record.
Potential suitors: Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians
T20 career numbers: Matches - 100, Wickets - 112, Average - 21.65, Economy - 7.24
Base price: Rs 1 crore
If the trading window saw one big heartbreak, it was Axar Patel parting ways with Kings XI Punjab after five years of association. The all-rounder was always a big influence in Kings XI's line-up in previous years but had a dismal 2018 as he picked up just three wickets in nine matches and averaged 13.33 with the bat. This could ultimately have resulted in Kings XI dropping him from their squad but it might have been a rash decision for Axar has played a vital part in some of their most famous wins.
As a containing bowler with a good economy rate, Axar could also complement an attacking spinner at the other end and provide crucial runs down the order consistently. The left-arm spinner could be a dark horse in this auction for he is a utility Indian pick.
Potential suitors: Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils, Chennai Super Kings
T20 career numbers: Matches - 101, Runs- 1034, Average - 20.27, Wickets - 92, Economy - 7.13