The preparations for the Eleventh Season of the Indian Premier League are well underway. Franchises took a big step in putting their credentials forward to win the title by assembling their squads in the two-day IPL Auction. I assess the teams after the auction:
Let me start with the defending champions, the Mumbai Indians. The thinking was clear. To assemble as many players as possible from the previous season. Having retained Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, their headline buys on the first day were using the Right To Match cards on all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya, which cost them 14.2 Crores cumulatively. The thought process of making these five players as their core was clear. Their other buys are very interesting and smart. They bought explosive opener Evin Lewis for just 3.8 Crores, pacers Mustafizur Rahman (2.2 Crores), Pat Cummins (5.4 Crores) and Jason Behrendorff (1.5 Crores) and a brilliant backup all-rounder in JP Duminy for just 1 Crore. 2016 Indian U-19 World Cup Captain Ishan Kishan was also bought at a big fee of 6.2 Crores.
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Their First XI looks really solid and is reminiscent of their championship-winning squads. A potential opening duo of Lewis and Rohit, followed by the aggressive Kishan, a potential Hardik Pandya at four, Pollard and Krunal at five and six and Suryakumar Yadav (3.2 Crores) as a finisher gives this team a solid batting look. Bumrah, Mustafizur, Cummins and a spinner in possibly Rahul Chahar (1.9 Crores) looks a great XI. The gaps in this side are with spinners. They do not have quality spinners and will be a concern when they travel. Even a few Indian batting backups look thin. They look a little too dependent on their first XI to fire regularly.
The 2016 winners perhaps had the best IPL Auction compared to everyone else. They have assembled a team with 16 or 17 players who could easily make it to any IPL XI. Having retained captain David Warner and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, they used their Right To Match Cards on Shikhar Dhawan (5.2 Crores), all-rounder Deepak Hooda (3.6 Crores) and leg-spinner Rashid Khan (9 Crores). This forms their core which looks really strong. Their other buys were brilliant too. They went all out to buy Manish Pandey (11 Crores), got Kane Williamson for 3 Crores, all-round options in Shakib Al Hasan (2 Crores), Yusuf Pathan (1.9 Crores), Carlos Brathwaite (2 Crores), Mohammad Nabi (1 Crore) and Chris Jordan (1 Crore) and Indian seamers in Basil Thampi (95 Lakhs), Sandeep Sharma (3 Crores), Siddarth Kaul (3.8 Crores), T Natarajan (40 Lakhs) and Khaleel Ahmed (3 Crores). They also bought perhaps the best IPL wicketkeeper after MS Dhoni, the underrated Wriddhiman Saha for 5 Crores.
The First XI is really strong. Warner and Dhawan their trusted openers, Pandey at three, Williamson or Shakib at four depending on conditions, Saha at five, Hooda at six and Nabi or Pathan at seven gives them a lot of options with Saha, Hooda and Nabi/Pathan as floaters in the lineup. Their bowlers are equally strong. Bhuvaneshwar and Rashid are perhaps two of best limited-overs bowlers right now and are handy batsmen. Kaul and Thampi fill the last two places. Their backups are the strongest who would easily play anywhere. Be it international all-rounders or Indian pacers, they seem to have all bases covered.
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Chennai Super Kings
Now coming on to one of the comeback teams, the ever consistent Chennai Super Kings. As soon as you look at their squad, you see a lot of sentiment and emotion in their purchases. You would also say this team is perhaps too old, while the Men in Yellow would say they have the experience. They too have called their old guard back. Retaining MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, they used their Right to Match Cards on Faf du Plessis (1.6 Crores) and Dwayne Bravo (6.4 Crores). They also recalled Murali Vijay (2 Crores).
Their other purchases are interesting. Kedar Jadhav (7.8 Crore), Shane Watson (4 Crore), Ambati Rayudu (2.2 Crores), Harbhajan Singh (2 Crores) and Imran Tahir (1 Crore) are all purchases of over 30 years of age. Mark Wood (1.5 Crores), Sam Billings (1 Crore), Mitchell Santner (50 Lakhs) and Lungisani Ngidi (50 Lakhs) are some of their overseas buys. They also bought Karn Sharma for 5 Crores and Shardul Thakur for 2.6 Crores.
The First XI is interesting especially when you look at the openers. It was surprising to see them not go in for Evin Lewis, Martin Guptill, Hashim Amla or even Chris Gayle. They went with Vijay but their concern would be the second opener. Watson or du Plessis are the possible options but are they perfect like a Brendon McCullum or Dwayne Smith from three seasons back? Raina picks himself at three with possibly Rayudu at four. Dhoni, Jadhav and Bravo make the middle order. Jadeja, Harbhajan/Karn, Thakur and Wood are expected to make the bowling lineup. They are short on pacers as well. Ngidi is the only overseas backup. Deepak Chahar (80 Lakhs), Monu Kumar (20 Lakhs) look like the only Indian options. This team looks to be built only for a couple of years, just to give Dhoni one final championship.
Kolkata Knight Riders
One of IPL’s most consistent franchises for the last five to six years, the Kolkata Knight Riders have had a disappointing IPL Auction. Retaining Sunil Narine and Andre Russell, they used their Right To Match Cards on Robin Uthappa (6.4 Crores), Piyush Chawla (4.2 Crores) and Kuldeep Yadav (5.8 Crores). That in itself looks a little wobbly. On the new Kolkata pitch, which is a fast bowlers’ paradise, they would have to drop one of Chawla or Kuldeep. Their big purchases were Chris Lynn (9.6 Crores), Mitchell Starc (9.4 Crores), Dinesh Karthik (7.4 Crores), Nitish Rana (3.4 Crores), the Under-19 duo of Kamlesh Nagarloti (3.2 Crores) and Shivam Mavi (3 Crores). Their squad of 19 players is the least amongst all teams and they were the only team to completely exhaust their budget of 80 Crores. They failed to get Manish Pandey and Gautam Gambhir back and now look a leader short.
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The First XI is decent but there is a dependency on the young Indian players. Chris Lynn and possibly Sunil Narine could open the innings with Uthappa and Rana in the top order. Karthik, Under-19 star Shubman Gill (1.8 Crores) and Russell form the batting. Starc, Chawla/Kuldeep, Nagarkoti/Mavi/Vinay Kumar (1 Crore) will fill the bowling slots. The backup in quality batting is lacking, Mitchell Johnson (2 Crores) is the only foreign bowler backup and they are yet to appoint a captain. Uthappa, Karthik and Lynn are the possible options but can they fill Gambhir’s void or Pandey who was expected to be at the centre of the side? Have they missed more than a trick?
Kings XI Punjab
This is a franchise who have always looked to save money. They did not do anything of that sort in this IPL Auction. They went hard and have recruited players which gives their First XI a scary look. KL Rahul (11 Crores), Ravichandran Ashwin (7.6 Crores), Andrew Tye (7.2 Crores), Aaron Finch (6.2 Crores) and Karun Nair (5.6 Crores) were their big buys. They used their Right To Match cards on Marcus Stoinis (6.2 Crores), David Miller (3 Crores) and Mohit Sharma (2.4 Crores) after retaining Axar Patel. On top of this, they also bought veterans Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle for 2 Crores each. These buys give them a plethora of captaincy options too in Ashwin, Yuvraj, Finch, Miller and Gayle. Other purchases in Afghanistan Under-19 star Mujib Zadran (4 Crores), Ankit Rajpoot (3 Crores), Barinder Sran (2.2 Crores), Ben Dwarshuis (1.4 Crores) and Mayank Agarwal (1 Crore) are providing depth.
The First XI is brilliant. Rahul and Finch as openers, Nair at three, Yuvraj, Stoinis and Miller with Axar gives them a great looking batting lineup. Ashwin, Tye, Sran and Mohit complete the bowling attack. Gayle as a possible alternative to both Stoinis and Finch is not half as bad, Indian pace cover in Rajpoot does look thin. A good finisher in Manoj Tiwary (1 Crore) can be a good backup option. Does Gayle’s arrival impact the core with his ability to be the centre of attraction? A smart captain makes this team really strong but could also mean a disaster if the First XI has too many poor days. The backups are thin.
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Another team making a comeback and another team with a reputation of being miserly spenders, the Rajasthan Royals crushed that image by buying the two most expensive players at the 2018 IPL Auction in Ben Stokes (12.5 Crores) and Jaydev Unadkat (11.5 Crores). Having retained captain Steven Smith, Rajasthan used their Right To Match Cards on Ajinkya Rahane (4 Crores) and Dhawal Kulkarni (75 Lakhs). The Royals played at the extreme ends of the price tags. They either went big or bought players under 1 Crore. Uncapped overseas players and BBL stars Jofra Archer (7.2 Crores) and D’Arcy Short (4 Crores) fetched big bids. Sanju Samson (8 Crores), Jos Buttler (4.4 Crores), K Gowtham (6.2 Crores) and Rahul Tripathi (3.4 Crores) went for big money. This is another team that has a very strong First XI but are short on quality backups.
Rahane and Tripathi are the openers with Smith and Samson completing the top order. Stokes, Buttler and Archer complete the batting lineup. Gowtham, Kulkarni, Unadkat and possibly Shreyas Gopal (20 Lakhs) complete the XI. The backups look thin. Barring Short, there does not seem to be any quality backup. The uncapped Indians and Ben Laughlin (50 Lakhs) do not look like quality backups and if the First XI face injuries or bad form, the Royals will struggle.
One team’s loss is another team’s gain. If Kolkata Knight Riders lost Gautam Gambhir, Delhi Daredevils snapped him up at the IPL Auction for just 2.8 Crores. Having retained Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, they used their Right To Match Cards on Kagiso Rabada(4.2 Crores) and Mohammed Shami(3 Crores). The Daredevils, like the Sunrisers Hyderabad, is another team that has a good looking XI with some quality backups. Their big purchases were Glenn Maxwell (9 Crores), Amit Mishra (4 Crores), Vijay Shankar and Shahbaz Nadeem for 3.2 Crores each, Rahul Tewatia (3 Crores) and Jason Roy and Daniel Christian for 1.5 Crores each. Trent Boult at just 2.2 Crores and Colin Munro at 1.9 Crores are big bargain buys.
Their First XI could be made up of so many options. Roy/Pant/Iyer/Munro could all be openers and number three batsmen followed by Gambhir, Maxwell, Shankar/Gurkeerat Singh(75 Lakhs) make the batting lineup. Morris, Shami, Rabada and Mishra/Nadeem form the bowling lineup. The backups are clear from the First XI, Boult is as good a seamer you could want, Tewatia, Christian are good backups too. Jayant Yadav (50 Lakhs), Abhishek Sharma (55 Lakhs), Manjot Kalra (20 Lakhs) and Naman Ojha (1.4 Crores) are the Indian backups for every role. Their biggest acquisition could well be Gambhir and his captaincy as that is what has lacked at the Daredevil in previous seasons: Leadership.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The boys from Bangalore have always had some eyebrows-raising buys in previous auctions. At this IPL Auction, they went in pretty low-key and bought very smartly. Having retained superstars Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers and the young star Sarfaraz Khan, they used their Right To Match Cards on Yuzvendra Chahal (6 Crores) and Pawan Negi (1 Crore). Their buys were not overpriced and they focused on getting backups for as many positions as possible. Their big buys were Chris Woakes (7.4 Crores), Umesh Yadav (4.2 Crores), Washington Sundar and Brendon McCullum for 3.2 Crores each, Navdeep Saini (3 Crores), Quinton de Kock (2.8 Crores) and Mohammad Siraj (2.6 Crores). They have assembled a great First XI with adequate backups.
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Murugan Ashwin (2.2 Crores) would play on spinning tracks like Moeen Ali (1.7 Crores), they have good Indian batsmen in Mandeep Singh (1.4 Crores) and Manan Vohra (1.1 Crores), a foreign all-rounder in Colin de Grandhomme (2.2 Crores) and a wicketkeeper in Parthiv Patel (1.7 Crores). Kulwant Khejroliya (85 Lakhs) is a good upcoming Indian pacer. Nathan Coulter-Nile (2.2 Crores) is a proven IPL pacer.
The First XI looks very stable. De Kock, McCullum, Kohli and AB should form the top order followed by Mandeep, Sundar and Woakes. Chahal, Umesh, Siraj and M Ashwin could be the bowling options. They can change their lineup according to any surface and have good bench strength to do that. They have not been like the vintage and hard-hitting Royal Challengers at the Auction, but their approach in this auction could have assembled their most efficient IPL team yet.
Best Team at the 2018 IPL Auction: Sunrisers Hyderabad
The Bargain Buys: Ajinkya Rahane(4 Crores to RR), Evin Lewis(3.8 Crores to MI), Quinton de Kock(2.8 Crores to RCB), Gautam Gambhir(2.8 Crores to DD), Colin Munro(1.9 Crores to DD), Mustafizur Rahman(2.2 Crores to MI), Yusuf Pathan(1.9 Crores to SRH)
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo. Karn Sharma, Shane Watson, Shardul Thakur, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Faf Du Plessis, Mark Wood, Sam Billings, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Mitchell Santner, Lungisani Ngidi, Asif K M, N Jagadeesan, Kanishk Seth, Monu Singh, Dhruv Shorey, Kshitiz Sharma, Chaitanya Bishnoi.
Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris, Glenn Maxwell, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Shahbaz Nadeem, Vijay Shankar, Rahul Tewatia, Mohammad Shami, Gautam Gambhir, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Daniel Christian, Jason Roy, Naman Ojha, Prithvi Shaw, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Avesh Khan, Abhishek Sharma, Jayant Yadav, Harshal Patel, Manjot Kalra, Sandeep Lamichhane, Sayan Ghosh
KINGS XI PUNJAB
Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Yuvraj Singh, Christopher Gayle, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Starc, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Apoorv Vijay Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi
Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Pat Cummins, Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Ben Cutting, Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Chahar, Pradeep Sangwan, Jason Behrendorff, Jean-Paul Duminy, Saurabh Tiwary, Tajinder Dhillon, Akila Dhananjaya, Nidheesh M D Dinesan, Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Dinesh Lad, Mayank Markande, Sharad Lumba, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan
Steve Smith, Benjamin Stokes, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jos Buttler, Ajinkya Rahane, Darcy Short, Rahul Tripathi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zahir Khan Pakteen, Ben Laughlin, Stuart Binny, Dushmantha Chameera, Anureet Singh, Aryaman Vikram Birla, Midhun S, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Jatin Saxena, Ankit Sharma, Mahipal Lomror
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE
Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Chris Woakes, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Brendon McCullum, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Quinton De Kock, Mohammed Siraj, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, M. Ashwin, Parthiv Patel, Moeen Ali, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, Pawan Negi, Tim Southee, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Pavan Deshpande, Anirudha Ashok Joshi
David Warner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan Arman, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha, Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Kane Williamson, Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Shreevats Goswami, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Jordan, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Sachin Baby, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Tanmay Agarwal
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