The prelude to the most lucrative T20 league in cricket is here already and just as the few fringe players in the 346 shortlisted names hope for the best, the fans would keep their fingers crossed hoping that their favourite sides make the right moves at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction table on 18 December at Jaipur.
The auction is a great opportunity for a few lesser known players to announce their presence to world cricket and here we put together five players who could go big at the auctions this time around despite flying under the radar:
Glenn Phillips (New Zealand)
Base price: Rs 50 lakh
An opening batsman and wicket-keeper, Glenn Phillips will be a relatively unknown name for weekend cricket fans, but is surely in the radar of some of the IPL franchises who have scouts all over the world and analysts churning out the best names to target day in day out. Phillips was the star of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in 2018 for Jamaica Tallawahs, topping the run charts with 457 runs at 41.54 and a strike rate of 146.94.
Opening the batting, Phillips smashed a 63-ball 109 in the eliminator against St Kitts and Nevis, but ended up on the losing side. He scored the most sixes in the season and should attract a few bidders at a base price of Rs 50 lakh. Several franchises could be interested in him, given that he is an opener with a high strike-rate also capable of keeping wickets.
T20 career numbers: Mat - 49, Runs - 1,415, Avg - 32.15, SR - 133.61
Franchises that could be interested in him: Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians.
Base price: Rs 50 lakh
The 6 feet-plus tall Oshane Thomas turned heads during the recent T20I series against India when he set the pace gun on fire and had the Indian batsmen hopping on their feet. He consistently clocked over 145 kmph and and had the wood over Shikhar Dhawan in the series, which would surely have caught the attention of a few franchises.
At 21, Thomas is relatively new to international cricket, but has already showcased immense potential and with recent form behind him, the West Indian could be sought after by quite a few teams. Several teams have let go of their fast bowlers before the auction with an eye on revamping the bowling attack ahead of the new season and many of them could run after the tall West Indian who is a relatively unknown commodity to most of the batsmen.
T20 career numbers: Mat - 17, Wkts - 26, Avg - 19.73, Eco - 8.27
Franchises that could be interested in him: Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils.
Base price: Rs 1 crore
The 32-year old has recently been in favour for the England limited-overs side and in his solitary appearance in Sri Lanka in a T20I, Denly the leg-break bowler trumped Denly the opening batsman when he picked up 4/19 to grab the Man of the Match award. Once a part-timer, Denly has been a regular with the ball for Kent in county cricket and has also been racking up runs for fun across formats.
In 2017, he topped the averages for Kent in both the County Championship and the T20 competition and broke into the England T20I squad, which seemed relatively impenetrable given the plethora of talent. An opening batsman who is a regular leg-break bowler is worth his weight in gold in T20 cricket and Denly has surely done enough to warrant a big deal at the auctions this year.
T20 career numbers: Mat - 192, Runs - 4,864, Avg - 28.44, SR - 122.98, Wkts - 28, Avg - 18.25, Eco - 7.72
Franchises that could be interested in him: Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Base price: Rs 20 lakh
A relatively unknown commodity before the inaugural Mzansi Super League, Anrich Nortje set the tournament opener on fire when he clocked insane speeds and had the likes of AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar befuddled. Nortje was consistent, pacy and took wickets aplenty in a short stint before injury ruled him out. The South African was so impressive that despite playing just three matches, he was suddenly in the radar of the national selectors.
Nortje picked up 10 wickets in these games and had an economy of 6.92, which gave the Cape Town Blitz a rollicking start to the competition. Considering that the IPL could also be staged in South Africa this year, Nortje's extra zip, pace and knowledge of surfaces could work in his favour at the auctions. He'd surely be recommended by some of the players who faced him and we could see a bidding war for this exciting fast bowler.
T20 career numbers: Mat - 12, Wkts - 19, Avg - 13.73, Eco - 6.47
Franchises that could be interested in him: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Base price: Rs 20 lakh
A fast bowling all-rounder from India is a rarity and when one emerges from obscurity, he is more often than not the toast of the nation. The latest seam bowling all-rounder to make headlines is Mumbaikar Shivam Dubey, who bats left-handed and bowls right-arm medium pace. He turned heads last month during the Ranji Trophy when he smashed a 139-ball 114 and returned with the ball to deliver a nagging spell.
Dubey was instantly the talk of the nation and before the big IPL auctions, the all-rounder has played smart and put up a base price of just Rs 20 lakh in order to attract more bids. In the past we have seen small scale Indian domestic players who place low base prices for themselves going big in the auctions and Dubey could be one such superstar this year.
T20 career numbers: Mat - 13, Runs - 189, Avg - 23.62, SR - 147.65, Wkts - 10, Avg - 26.30
Franchises that could be interested in him: Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians.
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"We don’t have to tell our bowlers to bowl fast, they just do. A bowler like Nortje likes to run in and let it rip, which is what he is doing and getting noticed for. We don't have to tell him to try and bowl 160 kmph," Delhi Capitals' bowling coach Ryan Harris said.
Two back-to-back defeats against Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab must be hurting but Delhi Ccapitals need to shrug it off and add two points to take their tally to 16, which will elevate them to the top of the table.
Earlier this month, CSK skipper MS Dhoni overtook Suresh Raina (194 games) to become the player with most appearances.