As part of evolution, a new facet has been added to the razzmatazz of the Indian Premier League. Apart from the towering sixes and the closely fought encounters on the field, the trading window and top billing IPL auctions have further increased the league's charm.
This not only helps to maintain a buzz around the tournament throughout the year but also provides fodder for the fans from time to time.
With teams having let go of players in bulk at the end of the trading window, the build-up now starts for the auctions to be held in Kolkata on 19 December. On cue, let's analyse the leading requirement of all the franchises and one player that each team is likely to target in the upcoming auctions.
Kolkata Knight Riders
- Requirement: Backup pace bowling all-rounder
- Premier option: Chris Morris
Kolkata Knight Riders made some surprise moves by releasing Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn, two players who have been part of their core over the last few years. The team has a sizeable purse remaining with Rs 35.65 crore still to spend and 11 slots to fill, including four overseas ones.
Andre Russell almost single-handedly pummeled KKR to the playoffs last year but his injury concerns have only worsened. While Russell even at 50% fitness remains better than most players around the world, it makes sense for KKR to buy a backup all-round option.
The choice that seems the most plausible is Chris Morris, who has been released by Delhi Capitals. Morris' bowling has improved out of sight, which was on display in this year's ODI World Cup. His batting ability lower down the order was never under question and the lanky all-rounder can take any bowling attack to the cleaners on his day.
An IPL career batting average of 27.21 and a strike rate of 157.62 when coupled with a bowling average of 24.76 and economy of under eight is too tempting an option for KKR to overlook.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
- Requirement: Pacer
- Premier option: Alzarri Joseph
It is no secret the Royal Challengers Bangalore have badly struggled with their bowling not only at the death but in the middle overs as well. By and large, their batting has been good and has put massive runs on the board but their bowling has been unable to defended them.
After releasing as many as 12 players, they have a fair number of slots to fill. RCB would be looking for a pacer who can not only pick up wickets but be economical as well.
Alzarri Joseph was able to play just three matches for Mumbai Indians last year but claimed figures of 6/12 on debut. The injury that he picked up in the IPL took a long time to heal. As soon as Joseph became fit, he was selected by West Indies in each of the ODI, T20 and Test squad for the series against Afghanistan, which gives some idea of his potential.
Joseph could turn out to be just the player RCB need.
- Requirement: Opener
- Premier option: Rahul Tripathi
It has been the Jos Buttler show for Rajasthan Royals for the last two years and they would consider themselves fortunate to make it to the playoffs last time around. The team has traded Ajinkya Rahane to Delhi Capitals and with Steve Smith leading the side, a few big changes are expected.
The franchise does have Steve Smith, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler as their big-ticket overseas batsmen but they still lack an Indian batting option, with Sanju Samson being the only recognisable name.
RR need an opener to partner Jos Buttler at the top in the absence of Rahane, and Rahul Tripathi can be that option. With an IPL batting average of over 25, Tripathi has been consistent since 2017 and a career strike rate of 137.31 is also quite decent for the Royals to rope him in.
- Requirement: Backup opener
- Premier option: Evin Lewis
Defending Champions Mumbai Indians have their core well in place with Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah in the ranks. The team has released Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, Barinder Sran and Alzarri Joseph but is still covered on the pace bowling front with Trent Boult and Mitchell McClenaghan in the squad.
MI will open with Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock but are missing a backup opener. They decided to release Evin Lewis but it is highly likely that they will buy him back in the auctions. Lewis just smashed two half-centuries against Afghanistan and his T20I strike rate of 153.04 should seal it for him.
Chennai Super Kings
- Requirement: Indian dasher
- Premier option: Prabhsimran Singh
Like it has always been the case with Chennai Super Kings, they have refrained from too much chopping and changing and stuck to their squad. The team has only five slots to fill including two overseas ones and has the lowest purse remaining - Rs 14.60 crore.
Over the last couple of years, the biggest problem with CSK has been their cautious approach while batting. The team has a lot of touch players and desperately need a dasher. However, with overseas spots already filled due to Shane Watson, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo and Lungi Ngidi, they will have to look towards an Indian option.
Prabhsimran Singh went to Kings XI Punjab at 4.8 crore in IPL 2019 but got to play only one match. He has a T20 average of over 140 and made a name for himself with his big-hitting ability. With CSK having released Sam Billings, Prabhsimran also provides a backup wicket-keeping option.
Kings XI Punjab
- Requirement: Pacer
- Premier option: Oshane Thomas
Having released some big names like David Miller, Andrew Tye and Sam Curran, KXIP have the highest purse remaining - Rs 42.70 crore. They have Mohammed Shami and Anrich Nortje as their pace bowling options but will want a couple more to round off the attack.
Oshane Thomas was picked by Rajasthan Royals in the last season and played four matches for them with a decent average of 15 and economy of under eight. The West Indian also picked up five wickets and could be a good option for Punjab. Thomas will provide KXIP with some variety in their bowling attack to go along with their multiple spinners.
- Requirement: Pace bowling all-rounder
- Premier option: Carlos Brathwaite
Sunrisers Hyderabad have been very street smart with their choices over the years but had a rare bad season last year. They have released three all-rounders in Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hudda, which gives them enough room to pick up a solid all-rounder in the auctions.
The team already has Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Shahbaz Nadeem as their spin options. So, they are likely to look towards pacers.
Carlos Brathwaite, Moises Henriques, Sam Curran and Ben Cutting are the available options for them. With deadly striking skills and an understanding of the Sunrisers Hyderabad camp, having already played for them, Brathwaite is likely to win this race.
- Requirement: Overseas pacer
- Premier option: Jason Behrendorff
Delhi Capitals have been very canny in selecting their Indian batting group. In Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Delhi Capitals have a great lot of young and exciting Indian batsmen. The inclusion of Ajinkya Rahane has only bolstered it further.
The team can now use their remaining Rs 27.85 crores to bag a quality pace bowler. With them having released Chris Morris and traded Trent Boult, getting hold of Jason Behrendorff would be a good bet.
Behrendorff featured for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2019 but could play only five matches due to the presence of Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga. A T20 average of 22.05 and an economy of 7.24 put him in good stead for the role.
Remember how Behrendorff tormented the Indian batting line-up in only his second T20I, picking up a four-fer in Guwahati? The Aussie can also exploit the weakness of the Indian batsmen against left-arm seamers.
With Kagiso Rabada already in the side, it will be a headache for the opposition batsmen to face two quality pacers in tandem. Just imagine the spectacle.
(Saksham Mishra is a freelance sports journalist, justifying hours of watching sports by scribbling down a few logical lines that might just about hold your interest. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)