IPL auction: For some teams, it's more than a mini auction | Crickit
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IPL auction: For some teams, it's more than a mini auction

Dec 19, 2023 12:17 AM IST

Every season a team must its best foot forward, ready to make massive bids. The auction has become important to send the right signals to the market and fans

There was a time when an IPL mini auction would appear more an exercise to fill in the blanks; when it didn't seem like much work for those in the envious position to raise the paddle.

At the auction table, you want to show you're picking the right players
At the auction table, you want to show you're picking the right players

Well, those days are history. In Dubai on Tuesday, the franchises won't just look to plug the gaps in their squads. For the IPL 2024 auction will feature 333 cricketers, some of them World Cup winners and world-class performers.

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Now, every season you must put your best foot forward, ready to make massive bids. The event has become important to portray the right image, send out signals to the market and fans. Now that all franchises are raking in money, an auction is also about building team legacy.

Every poor season sees the team being judged by sponsors and fans, which is why the team must be perceived as making the right moves. The moment it appears they are being conservative, they can lose a lot, including the fan base.

At the auction table, you want to show you're picking the right players. The money-saving routine is passe. Even successful starters Gujarat Titans can’t sit back. They will need to find the right replacement for Hardik Pandya, someone who can inspire confidence and connect with their local fan base.

To attract the right talent, a team must be in a good space. If it doesn't have the winning look, marquee players will jump ship like Pandya did to Mumbai Indians. Most teams can’t match MI's money power but you can instead build a brand like Chennai Super Kings with a success rate to match.

All this means it will be serious business for the franchises on Tuesday. A maximum of 77 slots are available with up to 30 slots for overseas players.

The Pandya trade has put GT in the driver’s seat with the biggest purse of 38.15 crore. CSK are also well placed. Their winning combination is more or less intact and they also have 31.40 crore to bolster the squad.

Doing well at the auction holds greater significance for teams who have not got the desired results. In IPL 2023, Kolkata Knight Riders were seventh, Punjab Kings eighth, Delhi Capitals ninth and Sunrisers Hyderabad last. SRH ( 34 crore) and KKR ( 32.70 crore) have the purse to get the right players. PBKS have 29.10 crore and DC 28.95 crore.

AUCTION DYNAMICS

While the IPL auction has become an event like no other on the cricketing calendar, the buzz is greater when held immediately after the World Cup. The tournament throws up exciting new talent while the successful players become the star attractions. It was the 50-over format but the franchises saw which players had the game to adapt to Indian conditions. Hence, expect Travis Head, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Starc, Gerald Coetzee, Josh Hazlewood and Daryl Mitchell all to attract big bids.

While recency helps, other dynamics too dictate bids; most of all, which team has that gap to fill. Head and Rachin will be hot picks but for teams chasing an opener or No. 3. Most teams have the top-order sorted; so, GT for instance will be happy to get one of them to partner Shubman Gill. Currently, Wriddhiman Saha, 38, is the makeshift opener.

There is bound to be high interest on Rachin. He is a complete package -- bats, bowls and fields well. He fits in the plans of various teams for different reasons. CSK have lost batting mainstay Ambati Rayudu. Plus, there is the New Zealand connect in coach Stephen Fleming, opener Devon Conway and spinner Mitchell Santner. For GT, he could be the all-rounder replacement. Even RCB can make the team around the youngster -- he also has Bengaluru roots -- because, if he clicks, he is a long-term candidate for retention.

This is the final year of the three-year contract for players with a mega auction slotted in for next year. Hence, the teams looking for one season will work to Head’s advantage. He is the form player of the season. He has a strike rate of 146.17 in T20Is and showed the right approach in short IPL stints for RCB, in 2016 and 2017.

Indian pace bowlers are always in demand. Hence, Shardul Thakur and Harshal Patel can expect good bids. Shardul concedes runs but gets wickets. Harshal timed it right with a match-clinching spell in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final for Haryana last week.

CSK prefer utility players, so Shardul and Harshal fit in. Given the dearth of Indian finishers, big-hitter Shahrukh Khan will have teams vying for him. RCB have released Aussie pacer Josh Hazlewood as he won't be available for the first half of IPL 2024. The tournament is likely to start on March 22, but BCCI's priority will be to wrap up the event before the general elections.

BASE PRICE MATTERS

A low base price helps when one is not a top pick and his name doesn't come up in the early rounds. It can entice teams to go for them, and when bidding heats up, logic is left behind. New Zealand batter Daryl Mitchell (base price 1 crore) is in form, having struck two hundreds against India at the World Cup and aggregated 552. Many teams will need a batter who plays spin lower down the order.

Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis and Dilshan Madushanka, who had a good World Cup, have kept their base prices at 50 lakh. Unorthodox spinners are always in demand, and at 50 lakh, Tabraiz Shami’s base price is right. Hasaranga, at 1.5 crore, also should attract bids.

Overseas fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Gerald Coetzee and Madushanka are in the fray. RCB will surely go for them as they have released most of them. Mo Bobat, RCB Director of Cricket, said: “We have a strong core and a powerful top-order. Mohammed Siraj is a core part of what we do, so supporting him with more bowling options, including overseas players, is going to be a real priority for us moving forward.”

The exciting aspect is going to be uncapped Indian players; and there are many young local players, all in just 20 lakh base price.

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