The IPL auction returns. And there is this usual sense of anticipation around it. Who will go where is the biggest question that fans are seeking out of excitement. In this space, we present some names teams can go after based on their in-hand resources. This is Part 2, containing our assessment of Gujarat, Lucknow, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
Purse Remaining: 19.25 crore, Slots Remaining: 7, Overseas Slots Remaining: 3
There was a running joke during Gujarat’s victorious campaign in IPL 2022 that their finishers start arriving at number three. Funny because it was true, Hardik Pandya, a renowned finisher, batted at three for the eventual champions many times, followed by batters who had primarily played as a finisher for their various T20 sides before. Luckily for Gujarat, a heavy majority of their batters performed beyond expectations which ushered them to the title in their maiden season.
Gujarat won’t like to leave their batting outcomes on any good fortunes now. The auction is a chance to add stability to their batting which carries a mercurial look. They played musical chairs with their number three in 2022 and Matthew Wade isn’t a certainty at that spot. The defending champions can therefore shop for a gun T20 top-order batter. Considering Gujarat possess everything else in their squad - including both seam and spin bowling all-rounders - they can experiment with that position. Gujarat can invest in the future with the likes of Harry Brook, or buy Nicholas Pooran who is struggling to find his strides in international cricket but holds immense potential, or a globetrotter in Rilee Rossouw. Why not another pace-bowling all-rounder in Ben Stokes and Cameron Green?
However, Mayank Agarwal appears to be the best option for Gujarat. He can seamlessly slot in at three and allow them to experiment with the fourth overseas player. Another fruitful option would be a spin-bowling all-rounder like Sikandar Raza or Shakib Al Hasan, to assist Rashid Khan.
Gujarat was one of the best bowling sides in the 2022 season. But trading out Lockie Ferguson, there remains room for strengthening the bench for the pace battery.
Players they can target: Mayank Agarwal, Harry Brook, Nicholas Pooran, Rilee Rossouw, Shakib Al Hasan, Ben Stokes, Sikandar Raza, Travis Head, Adam Milne, Jhye Richardson, Taskin Ahmed, Dushmantha Chameera, Riley Meredith
Kolkata Knight Riders
Purse Remaining: 7.05 crore, Slots Remaining: 11, Overseas Slots Remaining: 3
Kolkata will head into the auction with the minimum purse and the most shopping to do. That is not an ideal situation in any scenario of life. On paper, they have a complete XI but a deeper look suggests they don’t have the money to stitch the holes that led to a below-par campaign in 2022.
The problem lies in the XI itself. From Shreyas Iyer at three to Sunil Narine at seven, Kolkata’s middle-order is lined up with batters who are susceptible to short deliveries. They need at least one all-round player of pace bowling. There is no such Indian player available in the auction who has proven himself in the IPL habitat. And the dilemma is that they cannot make space for an overseas recruit unless they take the hard call of moving on from either of Sunil Narine or Andre Russell. But then they will need a like-for-like replacement for them as well which is where they hit the roadblock of their limited purse. Not to forget, Russell has also been the prime death bowler more often than not.
In addition, Shardul Thakur has had a poor year in white-ball cricket, diminishing the confidence in him as a number eight. Varun Chakaravarthy has a similar story.
Kolkata need an overhaul and they don’t have the purse for it.
Players they can target: Rilee Rossouw, Harry Brook, N Jagadeesan, Jason Holder, David Wiese, Reece Topley
Purse Remaining: 42.25 crore, Slots Remaining: 13, Overseas Slots Remaining: 4
In contrast with Kolkata is Hyderabad. The Orange Army has the lowest squad size at present but they have the biggest purse in the auction, almost twice the size of seven of the franchises.
Like Kolkata, Hyderabad also have a set XI on paper already, albeit it has fewer loopholes to fix.
Hyderabad’s number one priority would be strengthening their spin bowling. The addition of a leg-spinner (even for back-up purpose) will complete their spin troika which already has a left-arm spinner and off-break bowler in their two all-rounders - Abhishek Sharma and Washington Sundar. Not many teams are looking for a leg-spinner which should make their job easier.
Marco Jansen is batting a spot high in the aforementioned provisional XI so adding an all-rounder would be helpful. Sam Curran could be a dream addition to play ahead of Jansen. And this is where Hyderabad can flex their purse to sign him at any cost.
And Hyderabad will still have sufficient money to buy Mayank Agarwal. Yes, they already have many top-order options but Mayank’s addition can guide their young batting line-up. Also, they have shown a clear strategy of investing in the future. Who knows they will target another youngster as a back-up for Glenn Phillips and Aiden Markram. Someone like Harry Brook perhaps.
Players they can target:: Adam Zampa, Adil Rashid, Tabraiz Shamsi, Sam Curran, Jason Holder, David Wiese, Mayank Agarwal, Harry Brook, Phil Salt
Lucknow Super Giants
Purse Remaining: 23.35 crore, Slots Remaining: 10, Overseas Slot Remaining: 4
The equation is straightforward for Lucknow. They need a number four as well as a number eight and they have overseas options open for both those positions. Modern-day T20 sides prefer some batting expertise at eight and especially Lucknow which invested in a plethora of all-rounders during the 2022 mega-auction.
Hence there are high chances Lucknow would invest in a bowling all-rounder at number eight. That leaves them with the choice of opting for a specialist batter in the top four. They have plenty of options. With a decent purse of 23.35 crore, they should be able to fill those slots. There were occasions in IPL 2022 when Lucknow promoted Krunal Pandya to accommodate a left-hander in the middle. Hence, their choice of number should be a left-handed batter, irrespective of an additional skill set.
Lucknow currently have Mark Wood and Kyle Mayers but none of them played any games in the 2022 season. The former comes with fitness and availability concerns too.
Besides an all-rounder, Lucknow may also add another overseas pacer as back-up. Overall, they have enough money to fill these slots without much fuss.
Players they can target: Nicholas Pooran, Ben Stokes, Rilee Rossouw, Sam Curran, Cameron Green, Jason Holder, David Wiese, Reece Topley, Jhye Richardson, Adam Milne, Jaydev Unadkat
Chennai Super Kings
Purse Remaining: 20.45 crore, Slots Remaining: 7, Overseas Slot Remaining: 2
Although Chennai have a stable XI on paper, there are a few crisis situations for which they would like to prepare in advance through this auction. One such muddle is built around Deepak Chahar’s recurrent back injury. Chennai suffered aplenty due to Chahar skipping the 2022 season. And with Dwayne Bravo moving to coaching duties, Chennai is another side that will be hunting for a seam-bowling all-rounder. The word around is that the Men in Yellow are keen to get Sam Curran back but face a big challenge with their limited budget.
However, to accommodate two overseas seam-bowling all-rounders, Chennai will need to replace Devon Conway at the top of the order with a solid Indian batter. The best option is Mayank Agarwal who also possesses a strong attacking game against spin, making him an ideal candidate for Chennai. Thus, to create a cushion for Chahar, Chennai will need to buy two players. Mayank’s inclusion will also cover for the loss of Suresh Raina and Robin Uthappa alongside the what-if’s around Ambati Rayudu and Shivam Dube.
Despite Mukesh Choudhary’s decent season in 2022, Chennai would like to have another option in hand. This is where Jaydev Unadkat comes in the frame. Again, the generally slow and sluggish nature of Chepauk underlines Unadkat as a great option.
Players they can target: Sam Curran, Jason Holder, David Wiese, Daniel Sams, Mayank Agarwal, N Jagadeesan, Jaydev Unadkat