Tue Jan 2018
All the anticipation surrounding what had been termed as the ‘mega auction’, is over. The extravagant affair of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 auction, stretched over two days – January 27 and 28 in Bengaluru, witnessed ample sixes with players returning back to their previous teams, few friendly tussles between franchisees and quite a few yorkers causing ripples. On one side, Jaydev Unadkat became the highest-earning Indian player in the 2018 auction with Rajasthan Royals roping him in for 11.5 crores, while Ben Stokes remained the most expensive foreigner earning 12.5 crores, despite the controversies he is undergoing. On the other hand, few top guns of the T20 format – Hashim Amla, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga – have all gone unheard of on the weekend in Bengaluru.
Out of a massive pool of 1,122 cricketers registering for the IPL, 581 players got the chance to throw their hat into the ring. Unfortunately, just 182 spots were up for grab. And while four franchisees went in for a full 25-member squad for the 11th edition of the annual tournament, two-time champion Kolkata Knight Riders bought just 19 players for the season. The weekend ended with eight of the franchisees spending around 78 crores of the allocated 80, while Chennai Super Kings built up their squad with still 6.55 crores short of the maximum usable amount.
Thus, the teams are ready, ready to take on the battle for the 11 edition of the celebrated league of cricket, but which are the franchisees that look strongest on paper. Well, for Rajasthan Royals, they spent a lot this time, going against their usual Moneyball policy, but stats and figures round up Sunrisers Hyderabad to be the strongest of the lot, followed by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The Hyderabad franchise has always been the formidable one. The 2016 champion has once again managed to rack themselves up with the best of the players in the business. You look at their batting…that’s strong. Their bowling…that is redoubtable.
Their pace attack will be spearheaded by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the one who had bagged 23 and 26 wickets respectively in the last two seasons and comfortably won the purple cap. He is definitely the crux of their bowling department. And he will be assisted by an arsenal of pacers – Sandeep Sharma, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Siddharth Kaul, Syed Khaleel Ahmed and Billy Stanlake. Along with it comes the all-rounders – Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Jordan. And beside the pace attack will lie the deceptive deliveries googlies from Rashid Khan, who will be supported by Shakib Al Hasan and Mehdi Hasan.
That is not where it ends. Their batting is armoured with the likes of swashbuckling openers David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, followed Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
If SRH is all about their pace and spin, then RCB’s strength lies in their batting line up. Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Sarfaraz Khan – even the word ‘formidable’ fails to describe how destructive this combination can be when they will head into the tournament.
Then they have a gang of stupendous all-rounders – Moeen Ali, Washington Sundar and Colin de Grandhomme.
And finally, their bowling department. Pace combo garnered by Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Tim Southee, and Navdeep Saini, which will be well altered by India’s T20 specialist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
With a team as strong as this, RCB would definitely like to break the IPL jinx.
Tamil Nadu left-arm pacer T. Natarajan catapulted into the limelight last year when Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) snapped him up for 30 times his base price of Rs. 10 lakh, making him the highest-paid uncapped Indian player in the 2017 auction.
Wriddhiman Saha prefers to bat at the top but the India Test wicketkeeper-batsman said he is ready to bat lower down the order for his new IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad as they have a formidable duo of David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan to open the innings.