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5 Players Who Can Make It Happen this IPL

Shane Watson could be RCB’s formula to success (image from sports.ndtv.com).

The T20 World Cup is nearing its end, meaning that the IPL is just around the corner. Now, I have spent a fair bit of time preparing for a set of pre-season/post auction reviews I plan to do in the near future, and as I have perused the player lists, I have found some players who can definitely cause ripples in this season for their respective franchises, and possibly even bring them the trophy (i.e. “Make it Happen):

Note: I have attempted to be as diverse as possible in terms of franchises without discounting player worth.

#5: Samuel Badree (RCB)

Badree has been one of WI’s standout bowlers this WT20. Although his 7 wickets in 5 games are impressive on their own, his economy rate of 5.68 is what really stands out. Considering that he played 2 of those 5 games on the run-rich track of Mumbai. His ability to bowl those tight overs upfront with the new ball will be invaluable for RCB, especially in light of Mitchell Starc’s uncertainty due to injury.

#4: Ashish Nehra (SRH)

In the last few months, Ashish Nehra has scripted quite a turnaround in his T20 career. He had a mighty fine T20 World Cup, taking a wicket in each of his 5 games while conceding under 30 runs. Even more impressive is that he has accomplished this feat across 5 different grounds, which is a great indicator that he isn’t just someone who is constantly reaping the rewards of a pitch he knows well. In addition, it will be a chance for him to step up and lead a relatively young Sunrisers bowling lineup, and fill the void left by the departure of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma.

#3: Kevin Pietersen (RPS)

Last time Kevin Pietersen played an IPL, he had to lead the Delhi Daredevils, and struggle with a contingent of out of form players who were not quite settled with their roles in the team. Now, however, he is playing under MS Dhoni, arguably the Otto von Bismarck of cricket (in terms of genius, that is, not inciting wars with countries). He is also in a batting lineup that consists of men like Ajinkya Rahane and Faf du Plessis, who are known to be good at anchor roles. Hence, this season, KP will truly be liberated and free to do what he does best: attack the bowlers from ball one.

#2: Quinton de Kock (DD)

QDK has really enjoyed his time in India during the T20 World Cup. He registered scores of 52, 45. 47, and 9 in four games to put up a performance so strong it effectively shunned AB de Villiers from his traditional T20I opening slot, giving the Proteas one star in an otherwise dark night of a tournament. He will also be partnering with the illustrious Shreyas Iyer at the top of the order, which will finally give Zaheer Khan’s Daredevils hope of batting stability that they have sought so desparately since the era of Sehwag, Mahela and Warner.

#1: Shane Watson (RCB)

Shane Watson is probably the most accomplished all-rounder to don the RCB jersey since the legendary Jacques Kallis himself. For the franchise that has struggled so much with side balance in the last several years, there are so many options he opens up. He covers the role of a seasoned fast-bowler, allowing RCB to invest one of their overseas slots in a Samuel Badree, who could tantalize batsmen on the newly laid slower Chinnaswami track. His flexibility in the batting order allows RCB to give their young batting contingent a chance to find the positions and roles that suit them best. Lastly, his years of experience and success in both international and IPL cricket will allow him to bring something to the table for both the batsmen and the bowlers, and will also be someone Virat Kohli can turn to for a word of wisdom. In addition, Watto delivered consistently with both bat and ball for Australia in the T20 World Cup, and although some team lapses meant that trophy will still remain elusive to the otherwise trophy-rich Australian team, Watto sure did exit International Cricket in style.

 

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Top 5 Bargains of the IPL 2016 Auction

Dale Steyn was picked up for quite a bargain price. ( Image from indiatoday.in )

The 2016 IPL Auction was arguably the most interesting of all time, not just because of the influx of players from the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises, but also because of the fact that two teams – Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions – had to build their teams pretty much from scratch in what we consider as one of those “team strengthening” auctions. While I saw many buys that just had me scratching my head, I also saw a couple of excellent bargain buys, five of which I shall highlight in this article.

#5 – Stuart Binny (Rs. 2.00 crores – roughly $295,000) – Royal Challengers Bangalore

I realize that many may not think Binny as a marvelous bargain made in this auction, and they are not wrong to do so. However, we must consider the team that he has been brought into. RCB has been in search of a proper Indian all-rounder since…well, forever. Yuvraj was a good shot, but 14 crores was a weight too big for the RCB purse to bear, and he was let go. Acquiring Binny may have finally solved that problem. Although he hasn’t been in prime form over the last year, if he can roll his arm over for 2-3 overs at 8 or less, and swing a couple of sixes at the end of the innings, he will be quite and asset for the franchise. Of course, the question of whether or not he will actually perform remains, but I feel that for the risk, 2.00 crore is not a bad price to pay.

#4- Kevin Pietersen (Rs. 3.50 crores – roughly $515,000) – Rising Pune Supergiants

Even though his standing with the English Cricket Board is flaky at best, it is undeniable that Kevin Pietersen is a true mascot of the sport of cricket, and a worldwide entertainer. He has not donned the English jersey since England’s unceremonious loss of the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under, yet he continues to ply his trade in various T20 Leagues around the world – such as the Big Bash League, the Carribian Premier League, and the recently started Pakistan Super League. Wherever he has gone, he has given fans a marvelous display of T20 skill and power. He captained the Delhi Daredevils to their disastrous 8th place finish in 2014, and had to opt out of his Sunrisers contract last year to ply his trade at county cricket in a bid to return to the international squad. This year, he will be at Pune, alongside the likes of MS Dhoni, Steve Smith, and Faf du Plessis. While 3.50 crores is a significant amount of money, for someone in the form that KP is in, it is quite a steal.

#3 – Mustafizur Rahman (Rs. 1.4 crores – roughly $210,000) – Sunrisers Hyderabad

When we think of India’s devastating Bangladesh ODI series in June 2015, Mustafizur’s name comes up almost the same way Hitler’s does with World War II. The man picked up 5, 6, and 2 wickets in the first three games respectively, giving his team a 2-1 victory. The young 20-year old has not stopped his carnage there, however, as he holds averages under 15 in both T20 and ODI cricket. With a great abundance of Indian pacers in the Sunrisers lineup, not to mention Trent Boult vying for that bowler’s overseas slot, it will be difficult for Mustafizur to get games on a regular basis, but regardless, a price of 1.40 crores for him was a real jackpot for the Sunrisers.

#2 – Dwayne Smith (Rs. 2.30 crores – roughly $340,000) – Gujrat Lions

Since he was made a regular opener by the Mumbai Indians in 2012, Dwayne Smith has taken the IPL by storm. His belligerent hitting played a vital role for MI in 2013, as he covered up for Sachin Tendulkar’s injury and helped them win their first title. When he was contracted to CSK in 2014, he simply picked up from where he left off, partnering with Brendon McCullum to make one of the most devastating opening pairs in all of IPL. In fact, he came within tasting distance of the 2014 MVP Award, only to lose it by half a point to Glenn Maxwell. Considering that they drafted McCullum beforehand, they will be very happy that they could pick up his CSK opening partner for such a modest price.

#1 – Dale Steyn (Rs. 2.30 crores – roughly $340,000) – Gujrat Lions

Despite the fact that he’s going through a rather rough patch, with injuries and lapses in form, Dale Steyn is still one of the best bowlers in the world today. Like he showed in 2012 with the Deccan Chargers, he can single-handedly lead a team’s bowling attack to some success. When Gujrat came out of the Player Draft, many questions were raised about how they were going to acquire someone to spearhead them for a price that their budget would permit. Hence, picking someone like Steyn up for just 2.30 crores was a true bargain.  

 

 

 

 

 

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IPL Semifinals: Who Stands Where?

by iplgeek 0 Comments

CSK have been brilliant yet again, and are the first team to be guaranteed a semifinal spot. (image from http://www.cricketcountry.com/)

IPL Season has just flown by, and we’re already approaching the playoffs. The points table stand as follows:

  1. Chennai Super Kings (16 points, NRR = +0.646)
  2. Royal Challengers Bangalore (15 points, NRR = +1.037)
  3. Kolkata Knight Riders (15 points, NRR = +0.315)
  4. Sunrisers Hyderabad (14 points, NRR = -0.033)
  5. Mumbai Indians (14 points, NRR = = -0.259)
  6. Rajasthan Royals (14 points, NRR = +0.027)
  7. Delhi Daredevils (10 points,, NRR = -0.049)
  8. Kings XI Punjab (6 points, NRR = -1.425)

As you can see, the points table is quite close. Everyone in the first 6 spots is within a difference of two points. Hence, these last few league matches promise to be quite exciting. Every team is playing, so whether you want to be there as your team makes the semis, or you support DD and/or KXIP, You’ll want to know the schedule for the next 2 days (last two of the league stage):

  • Today (Saturday, May 16 2015):
    1. KXIP vs. CSK at Mohali (4:30 PM IST)
    2. RR vs. KKR at Mumbai (7:30 PM IST)
  • Tomorrow (Sunday, May 17th 2015)
    1. RCB vs. DD at Bangalore
    2. SRH vs. MI at Hyderabad

Every one of these matches can be important for you (again, unless you support DD and/or KXIP), even if your team is not playing. But how do you know what matches are important? Who should you be supporting? Well, here I’ll do some analysis of crucial matches for each team, who you should be rooting for in them. I’ll also be doing a little summary on what each team needs to do to qualify.

 

1. Chennai Super Kings.

What they need to do to qualify: Nothing (they’re already in)

Crucial match: KXIP vs. CSK (CSK to win, if you didn’t figure that out)

With 16 points in 13 games, CSK have assured themselves a place in the semifinals. Not even the most absurd and unlikely results could bring them any lower than 4th place. However, the men in yellow would still like to take a swing at the bottom-placed KXIP side to finish with 18 points, and gain an assured spot in the top two.

2. Royal Challengers Bangalore

What they need to do to qualify: Almost nothing (just don’t lose to Delhi by a ridiculously large margin).

Crucial match: RR vs. KKR (KKR to win)

RCB have made quite a comeback in this IPL. After stuttering with 2 points in 4 games, they’ve made a dramatic turn-around to lose only 2 of their next 9 (one washout). Their massive-margin victories have yielded great fruits now as their staggering +1.037 net run rate gives them a massive edge over KKR, who also have the same number of points. Because of this, they are all but assured a spot in the semifinals. If KKR win in their game vs. RR, then RCB will be through, regardless of their clash vs. DD. If RR win however, RCB will just need to make sure that their NRR does not drop below that of KKR as they take on DD in order to qualify. However, considering that KKR’s net run rate is roughly 0.7 below that of RCB (and will sink even lower if they lose to RR), this is extremely unlikely to happen. Nonetheless, RCB will be eyeing to land a killer blow on the Daredevils, and book their place in the top two with 17 points.

3. Kolkata Knight Riders

What they need to do to qualify: Beat Rajasthan.

Crucial match: RR vs. KKR (KKR to win)

The defending champions have not run through as smoothly as they did last year. Nonetheless, they are still in the top 4, and will be eyeing to seal that semifinal berth. To get this, the equation is simple: beat Rajasthan. If they were to lose, however, they would need to pray for a rainwash in the SRH-MI match, lest they be knocked out by the winner of that game. If they beat RR, they’ll be hoping for DD to beat RCB so they can seal a top two spot.

4. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians

What they need to do to qualify: Beat the other one.

Crucial matchSRH vs. MI (whoever you want to qualify must win).

Both MI and SRH are in a very similar situation, so I thought it would be convenient to group them together. Both have 14 points, but SRH is above MI courtesy of a higher net run rate. SRH have been shaky throughout the tournament, but have managed to win games with fair regularity. MI on the other hand, started of disastrously, losing 4/4, but then made quite the turnaround to lose only twice in their next 9 games. The equation for these two teams is simple too: winner qualifies, period. Neither of these teams has a chance of making the top two, however. The last thing either of them would want is a rainwash, as it would mean that neither of them would qualify. The only exception would be if Rajasthan beat KKR by a enough to push their NRR below that of SRH, in which case the men from Hyderabad would qualify.

5. Rajasthan Royals

What they need to do to qualify: Beat KKR

Crucial matchRR vs. KKR (RR to win).

It’s really surprising how Rajasthan managed to get themselves into this position. They won their first 5 games, but could only gather a further 4 points in their next 8 and are now 6th. Their equation to qualify (like that of many others above) is very simple: beat KKR. If they don’t, they’re out, and if they do they get in. They don’t have a hope of making the second place spot either, so they’ll just want to try for a win here, and nothing more.

6. Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils

What they need to do to qualify: Wait until the next IPL (no hope).

Crucial matchRCB vs. DD and KXIP vs. CSK (for pride)

It’s really sad to see KXIP end the way they did. The batting lineup that scored 200 four times last year has failed miserably, and their bowling attack has been dismal. They won more matches in their first 5 last year than they did in 13 this year, and now it’s all done for last year’s finalists. For Delhi, there was some fun to be had, as they pulled off some truly remarkable victories and made some brilliant performances. However, they just couldn’t keep the fire blazing long enough, and are now at 7th. They have nothing to play for now but pride, so hopefully they’ll come out all guns blazing to give their fans something to cheer about.

 

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IPL Auctions 2015 – Team Strategy

by iplgeek 0 Comments

The auction will take place on the 16th of February, this Monday. (Image from iplt20.com)

The World Cup has started, and the cricket world has now sprung to life. However, on the horizon we have another important event in the cricketing world – the IPL Auctions. Though not a cricket match per se, the auction is something that I personally look forward to every year, as it not only gives the thrill of seeing massive players being sold for heists of money, but also presents a chance for us to gain a deeper insight into team strategies and plans. Each team walks into the auction with different needs and theories, so who they go after will be interesting to see. Here’s who I think they should/will go after. Keep in mind that to keep this structured, I’ve suggested only a few of the many possibilities for players that fit into my frame.

Delhi Daredevils (payroll: ₹39,75,00,000)

Players to buy: Hashim Amla, Angelo Matthews, Trent Boult

In the last year, Delhi Daredevils have been much like an anxious Asian before his SATs: Anxious, unstable, and trying every possible method his money can buy him. Last year, after some belligerent spending, they landed up with 23 players, including Kevin Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik. However, following their 8th place finish, they released 13 of those players (including KP and DK). First and foremost, I think they need a stable leader. A centerpiece around whom the franchise can not only build a new team, but also around whom the team can rally. For this, I think that Hashim Amla and Angelo Matthews would be excellent. Both are proven leaders, and are known for their ability to lead from the front. Amla could provide the stability up front that Delhi so desperately lacked, and Matthews could chip in with his all round abilities, and give more stability in both departments. In addition, I think Delhi just need a good frontline pacer. For this, Trent Boult would be a good option. He’s got an excellent pace, and can provide that “oomph” factor to the bowling lineup.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (payroll: ₹21,05,00,000)

Players to buy: Mahela JaywardeneKane WilliamsonMichael Beer

Sunrisers had a lukewarm season last year, with some good wins and terrible losses. Their main concern, as with the Daredevils, will be leadership. Shikhar Dhawan did not quite capitalize on his opportunity. Hence, someone like Mahela Jaywardene would be excellent for the job. In addition, we must take into account the fact that the Sunrisers top order was not quite at it’s full potency throughout the tournament. Kane Williamson could help solidify that gap, in addition to providing an off-spin option to remedy the gap created by Amit Mishra’s releasing. This is also where Michael Beer would be handy. The left-arm spinner would be useful for spearheading the attack along with Dale Steyn, especially seeing as Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s form has been slipping

Chennai Super Kings (payroll: ₹4,80,00,000)

Player to buy: Trent Boult/Adam Milne

The Chennai Super Kings are unarguably IPL’s most successful franchise. 7 semifinals in 7 tournaments (with 5 finals and 2 victories) is a stat that speaks for itself. Their side for 2014 was pretty well set, except for the fact that their fast-bowling lineup was weak. Yes, they picked up wickets, but they simply never had the potency to rip through and sting opposing batsmen. For this, all they would need is someone like Trent Boult or Adam Milne, who can clock 140-odd speeds and “crash it in” to opposing batsmen.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (payroll: ₹20,80,00,000)

Players to buy: Trent Boult, Nathan Lyon, Angelo Matthews.

RCB had many problems with their side last year. Their batting was inconsistent, and their bowling was mediokre. Overall, though, I think it’s their bowling and team balance that need the most work. Especially after Yuvraj’s departure, they are in desperate need of more spinners (they have 2 pro spinners at the moment). Nathan Lyon would help here. Trent Boult could partner with Mitchell Starc to give the RCB fast-bowling a potent sting, and Angelo Matthews could contribute to both departments, giving the side balance.

Kings XI Punjab (payroll: ₹12,60,00,000)

Player to buy: Kane Williamson

Punjab are one of the most settled franchises of them all. The only thing I think they need is a man who can play a calm innings at the front amidst the bludgeoning of Virender Sehwag and Glenn Maxwell. Kane Williamson would be good for that.

Mumbai Indians (payroll: ₹10,00,50,000)

Players to buy: Kane Williamson, Nathan Lyon,

Mumbai started the IPL in a less-than-remarkable fashion, but fought hard to make it to the semifinals in an almost unreal way. Nonetheless, Mumbai would want to address the fact that they have some chinks in the batting lineup. Kane Williamson would be a good, flexible batsman who could address this. In addition, he and Nathan Lyon could help bolster the MI spin unit, which didn’t quite look at it’s prime last year.

Kolkata Knight Riders (payroll: ₹13,20,00,000)

Player to buy: Trent Boult/Adam Milne

Kolkata won IPL 2014 and technically haven’t lost an IPL match since May 5th of last year. Hence, it is pretty safe to say that their team composure is in good shape. However, it would be handy for them to have a backup for Morne Morkel. Someone like Trent Boult or Adam Milne would be good for this.

Rajasthan Royals (payroll: ₹12,75,00,000)

Player to buy: Gurinder Sandhu

To be honest I don’t think Rajasthan need much improvement. Their side compusure looks wonderful, and it was mostly unnecessary and ill-timed tinkering with the lineup that led to their premature exit from the tournament just before the semifinals. However, I would love to see someone like Gurinder Sandhu bowling for them, as he would gain ample experience working with the Royals, a team known for nurturing the young.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad: Season Preview

As always, watch my podcast for my general overview and analysis of the team:

After the Kings XI Punjab, I feel that the Sunrisers Hyderabad made some of the best buys in the IPL Auction for 2014. They pulled in a strong, balanced squad, and look like the team to bet this IPL. They did bring in Australian duo of David Warner and Aaron Finch to combine with the retained Shikhar Dhawan to beef up the top order, but the true strength of their side comes in their bowling. After pulling back the core of their attack by retaining and buying back Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Darren Sammy and Karan Sharma, they roped in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Jason Holder, Parveez Rasool, and Moises Henriques to form what is inarguably the most dangerous bowling line up this season. The only issue for them would be who be that a majority of their middle order is left in a slightly slippery position, with players like Venugopal Rao and Naman Ojha not really being in impact form over the last two years. However, they do have other options, such as Manpreet Juneja, Lokesh Rahul, and Srikkanth Aniruddha, so they do have room for experimentation. Some other things it will be interesting to see is whether Sunrisers will prefer to use Karan Sharma to Parveez Rasool, or whether they will play Ashish Reddy in their squad, as he has been good for the Sunrisers in the past.

Author’s Choice XI (Based on recent times):

Shikhar Dhawan (c)

David Warner

Aaron Finch

Lokesh Rahul (wk)

Darren Sammy

Irfan Pathan

Ashish Reddy

Karan Sharma

Amit Mishra

Dale Steyn

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

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IPL Auctions 2014: Ten Stick-Outs in the Lot

Its the new year 2014, and the IPL Auctions 2014 are dawning upon us already. With less than 30 days to go for the first phase of what is arguably the best domestic league in the world, teams are beginning to stir, waking from their long slumber. The list of retained players has already been announced, and if you so desire you can view them here. This auction plans to be much more interesting than the ones before, not only because it is the quarterly-arriving time where the entire teams are reformed, but also because of several new concepts introduced in this auction. The introduction of the “Right to Match” cards are amongst these interesting reforms, in addition to the retention limit going from 4 players to 5. I will do a thorough post that explains what the rights to match card does in another post, as I plan to do a lot of pre-auction posts anyways. In this particular post, I’m going to talk about 10 players who will definitely be on the buying lists of many franchises, and what will make them so valuable. Just so you know, the order they’re listed in has no statistical significance; its just the order I thought of them in. Here we go:

 

1. Cameron White (Australia)

The hard hitting Victorian has been known for inconsistency in the past, but in the on-going Big Bash League he has made himself heard, leading from the front with 201 runs at an average of 33.83, reinforced with a strike rate of 138.62. He also holds the reigns of captaincy for the Melbourne Stars, and is yet to lose a game this season. Such stats will definitely make White someone the IPL franchises will be looking for. For teams looking for new leaders and complete reform – namely the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils – this experienced campaigner would be a good option.

Cameron White

2. Luke Wright (England)

While his fellow countrymen were being deep-fried Down Under in the Ashes, Luke Wright was having quiet a ball for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League. Opening the innings with White, he has amassed 275 runs at a strike rate of 151.93 and an average of 34.37, and is the highest scorer for the Stars this year. He is no fool with the ball either, and in fact had an economy rate of 6.5 during Chris Gayle’s memorable assault on the Pune Warriors India during IPL 2013. He is a flexible batsman, and can bat anywhere from opening down to number 6 or 7. I feel that all the teams would love to have him on their side, but with the ECB being touchy about IPL, availability might be an issue for Wright. Still, franchises like RCB and MI would gladly take the risk, as combinations like Gayle and Wright would be beyond deadly.

Luke Wright

Luke Wright

3. Pragyan Ojha (India)

Pragyan Ojha is arguably India’s best test spinner today, but unfortunately he has been overlooked in the limited overs formats, where India’s bowling has taken a severe berating off late. His peak of form in terms of IPL cricket was in the years 2009 and 10, where he played a crucial role in Deccan Chargers’ unexpected title win in 2009, and semifinal place in 2010. He also won the Purple cap in 2010. In 2013, he played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory, as he claimed 16 wickets with an economy rate of 7.28, including the crucial wicket of Albie Morkel in the final. It is likely that he will be up for fair auction, as MI chose not to retain him, and are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson. This means that all the franchises will be after him, including MI. The Royal Challengers Bangalore might be willing to invest a lot in him as well, owing to the fact that bowling has been a concern for them in the last few years and Ojha would be able to remedy that well.

Pragyan Ojha

Pragyan Ojha

4. Dwayne Smith (West Indies)

The West Indian all-rounder is known for packing quiet a punch, and I doubt that there will be anyone to doubt that theory. He was devastating from the moment he set foot in the Mumbai Indians camp in 2012, and is remembered for smashing a six and two boundaries off Ben Hilfenhaus’s last three deliveries in the 20th over to snatch MI an improbable victory against the Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2012. However, he struggled in the middle-order from then on. His promotion to opener saw hell break loose, as he absolutely mauled the opposition bowlers and played an instrumental role in Mumbai’s victory of IPL 2013, scoring 418 runs at a strike rate of 122.58. He – like Ojha – will most likely be up for fair auction, as Mumbai did not retain him either, and as I said before, are more likely to use their right to match card on Mitchell Johnson, who was in red-hot form for the Ashes. While his former franchise will undoubtedly do everything they can to snap him up again, teams like CSK and Sunrisers Hyderabad –  who are looking for in-form batsmen to open their batting – will have their eyes on him as well.

Dwayne Smith

5. Aaron Finch (Australia)

Aaron Finch was in utterly decimating form this Big Bash League season. With 262 runs at a strike rate of 148.02 and an average of 52.40, he currently tops the run charts, he has truly been an example of “leading form the front” as he also captained the Melbourne Renegades. Unfortunately, international duty made him unavailable for their last 2 games, and that was only a catalyst that sped up the downfall of the Renegades, as they finished 6th in the league. Nonetheless, his performance is still enough to catch the eyes of any selector. He also scored a whoop-de-do 156 of just 63 against England in August last year, a score which stands as the highest individual T20I score ever. Finch led the now-defunct Pune Warriors India in 2013, and his 456 runs at a strike rate of 135.71 was the most for any batsman from his team, and gave a silver lining to PWI’s otherwise miserable season. The fact that his franchise cannot use a right to match card on him (because they don’t exist anymore) will make him up for fair auction, meaning that he will be under heavy bidding from about every franchise. Teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, who are seeking batting reforms, will be particularly interested in him.

Aaron Finch

6. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India)

Just about a year ago, Bhuvneshwar Kumar made his international debut, and he steamed through batsmen like a hot knife through butter. It has been more than evident that he lacks pace, and has been expensive at the death because of that. However, he is able to swing the new ball both ways, and is capable of wrecking havoc to top-order batsmen, and has even quelled Chris Gayle on many occasions with typical outswingers that caught edges. Although his form has deteriorated slightly over the last couple of months, which led to his dropping from the Test side in favor of Shami Ahmed, he is undoubtedly one of the best of the new-ball bowlers India’s got today, and it’ll be very strange if no IPL franchise decides to go for him. Teams that are looking to reform their teams altogether – such as Delhi or Kings XI Punjab – or teams that have struggled with bowling in the past – such as the Royal Challengers Bangalore – will definitely put a lot of money in him.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

7. Ryan McLaren (South Africa)

This South-African all-rounder has been an integral part of South Africa’s limited overs side, and has guided them to multiple close wins. As a bowler, he has worked with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to good effect, and was a part of the 5-man pace attack that South Africa used to barrage the Indian visitors on their recent tour. As a batsman, he has not fired quiet as much, but has played quiet a few crucial knocks for RSA, as well as his IPL franchises. Most notable of these knocks was during Kings XI Punjab’s first game of the 2011 IPL, where he came in at 36-5, and made a crucial 43-ball 51, which saved his team many blushes, although they went on to lose the game. Considering also that the IPL may take place in South Africa, McLaren would be a handy player for any team to have on their side. After James Faulkner profited on their home pitch, Rajasthan might want to give McLaren a go as well, to add to their international flavor in their attack.

Ryan McLaren

8. James Neesham (New Zealand)

The New Zealand all-rounder made a large impact in the T20 world after his exploits for the Otago Volts in the CLT20 of 2013. Although his team just missed their semifinal berth, his highlights gave a silver lining for the Volts to remember. He made 92 in 54 balls across his 3 matches, and got out only once. He was able with the ball as well, taking 3 wickets across his 10 overs while keeping his economy rate to a mere 7.00. His best highlight of the league was probably during the super over between Otago Volts and the Highveld Lions, where he managed to defend his total of 13 runs despite giving 10 in the first 2 balls. Neesham’s abilities will be valued by about every team, but teams like RCB – who have been looking desperately looking for one of those all rounders who can be equally brilliant with both bat and ball – should be willing to shell out a large amount for him.

James Neesham

9. Jackson Bird (Australia)

Jackson Bird has been one of the key standout performers in the Big Bash league season this year. Amassing 13 wickets across 7 games with a miserly economy of 6.71 and a stunning average of 14.46, he has been an integral part of the unbeaten Melbourne Stars’ success so far. He currently stands second on the highest wicket takers table, with Cameron Gannon of Brisbane Heat ahead of him. Teaming up with Lasith Malinga, Bird has been Cameron White’s weapon of choice against opposing batsmen throughout this league. The teams that will probably go hardest for him are teams that have lacked the genuine spearhead bowler, such as Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, it would also be just as wonderful to see him in Mumbai Indians or Sunrisers Hyderabad, bowling in tangent with Malinga or Dale Steyn.

Jackson Bird

10. Corey Anderson (New Zealand)

Corey Anderson has been the sensation of the year 2014 so far. After his world-record 36-ball ton against a hapless West Indies attack got everyone to look at him, he’s begun to show some more of his real class. In India’s tour of New Zealand, he whipped up a barrage with the bat, which included a 17-ball 44 that was just a six short of beating the record for fastest ODI fifty as well. He’s no amateur with the ball either. His left arm fast is probably not the most economic source of bowling, with his economy ranging well around the 6-an-over-mark, but he’s picked up nearly 20 wickets in just 12 games, and has already collected a 5-wicket haul. This shows that Corey may well be the vintage T20 all-rounder who gets the top bid for this year’s auction. Although about every team will look to go for him, it will be nice to see him in RCB, since the batting-friendly Chinnaswami Stadium track would definitely be able to bring out the best of Corey.

Corey Anderson

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IPL Auctions 2014: Right To Match Cards Explained

The IPL Auctions are closing in fast, and, as always, they promise to be a gripping experience, with almost as much tension and excitement as the real league itself. This years’ auctions, however, promise to be much more exciting than the ones before, primarily because of the implementation of several new measures. Amongst these is the “Right to Match card” concept. This may seem a complex concept, but in reality it’s not. It’s just like a stimulant to add an extra variable to the auctions, and make them even more exciting. The number of Right to Match cards a team has is based off how many players they retained. This chart will represent that:

 

Number of Players Retained Number of RTM cards

5

1

4

1

3

1

2

2

1

2

0

3

 

So as you can see, the number of players retained is inversely proportional to the number of RTM cards the franchise has. Since nearly every franchise decided to retain someone, the Delhi Daredevils is probably the only team with 3 RTM cards. The number of cards each franchise has is as follows:

Franchise Retentions RTM Cards Remaining Sum
Mumbai Indians

5

1

Rs. 21 crore

Chennai Super Kings

5

1

Rs. 21 crore

Rajasthan Royals

5

1

Rs. 22.5 crore

Sunrisers Hyderabad

2

2

Rs. 38 crore

Royal Challengers Bangalore

3

1

Rs. 30.5 crore

Kings XI Punjab

2

2

Rs. 43.5 crore

Kolkata Knight Riders

2

2

Rs. 38 crore

Delhi Daredevils

0

3

Rs. 60 crore

 

Now how the card itself works, is as follows. The player comes up for auction, and is auctioned as normal. Once the player receives no further bids, the auctioneer (hopefully Richard Madlee) will announce him sold. Then, he will ask if the players’ former franchise wishes to use an RTM card. If the franchise uses a card, then they will get the player at the final bid made. You may think that the franchises might as well use it on their best former player, and it will pretty much like a 6th retention. However, it has a different twist to it. To display this, I will use the practical example of Micheal Hussey. He was (surprisingly) released by CSK, and will feature in the auctions. So lets assume that he comes up, and all the teams start bidding like crazy.  They bid and bid and bid, and eventually Mumbai Indians raise the baton for 5.00 crores, and no one bids any further. Then, when the auctioneer hits the hammer, he will ask CSK if they wish to use their RTM card. This is an example of where things get complicating. While CSK have the chance to buy Hussey back, would it be worth paying up ¼ of their remaining purse just on him? That is why the RTM is a little more ambiguous than retention, and adds an extra twist to the auction. Hopefully this article has given you an insight on the RTM card factor, and helped you understand it better. Now lastly, here are my predictions as to who the franchises will use their RTM cards on, based on my assumptions and whatever information I’ve managed to find:

Franchise Player(s) the card(s) will be used on
Mumbai Indians Mitchell Johnson
Chennai Super Kings Chris Morris
Rajasthan Royals Brad Hodge
Sunrisers Hyderabad Quinton de Kock, Amit Mishra
Royal Challengers Bangalore Vinay Kumar
Kings XI Punjab David Hussey, Shaun Marsh
Kolkata Knight Riders Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan
Delhi Daredevils David Warner, Mahela Jaywardene, Umesh Yadav

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Will the Sun Rise in Chennai?

Who will the Sunrisers play?

Phew. What an IPL we’ve been having so far. Two hat-tricks, two 200+ scores (one of them being the highest T20 score ever), two individual hundreds, and so much more. Today we have a very interesting clash. The Chennai Super Kings take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Now you may ask, what’s so important about this game? It’s just another Chennai vs Hyderabad game. To that, I say that this match is very important because of two reasons. One, because it’s in Chennai, which means that there are no Sri Lanka players, which means that there is no Thisara Perera or Kumar Sangakkara. This gives a chance to Darren Sammy and Nathan McCullum, or both, if they take into account Quinton de Kock’s poor performances. Two, Shikhar Dhawan will return to play for SRH. He was most unfortunately injured after his sensational Test debut against Australia, where he scored a massive 187 in just 174. His return will be crucial for the Sunrisers, owing to the fact that they’ve struggled with batting form throughout the tournament. Another interesting thing will be to see Darren Sammy made his debut. Sammy captained West Indies to a fabulous T20 World Cup win, and might well be asked to do so today. Also, Sammy’s fast bowling will supplement to the spearhead of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma. Another good player who should get a game today is Nathan McCullum. He is most likely to play, provided Quinton de Kock is left out. de Kock’s form has been poor. Now if Dhawan arrives, then there will be no need for de Kock to be in the side. McCullum will be preferred over Clint McKay or Juan Theron, owing to the fact that there are already three strong pacers in the team. McCullum could also prove to be a valuable player to bowl in tangent with Amit Mishra, and will help a lot against the CSK batting lineup, and also he could help provide some depth in the batting lineup. So let’s see what the Sunrisers do. If I could, I would pick this XI:

 

Shikhar Dhawan

Parthiv Patel (wk)

Cameron White (c)

Hanuma Vihari

Biplap Samantary

Darren Sammy

Nathan McCullum

Ashish Reddy

Amit Mishra

Dale Steyn

Ishant Sharma

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New era of Hyderabad to Dawn upon Pune

The Deccan Chargers had one hell of a season last year. Everything from their team’s decisions down to their fielding was terrible. They knew that Ishant Sharma would not play IPL 5. Still, they traded Praghyan Ojha to MI, and spent their auction buying batsmen like Parthiv Patel and Darren Bravo when they should have picked up players like James Anderson and Vernon Philander. So not unexpectedly, they ended up having to put faith in their domestic bowlers, and these players were taken apart. Also, during the time period where Steyn was out with injury, the Chargers suffered some of their worst defeats. That was just their bowling. Their batting was very unpredictable, with only Shikhar Dhawan and Cameron White firing consistently. Other than that, their fielding was terrible. So the DC fans – who (unlike the poor Kochi fans) still get to see a Hyderabad franchise – will want the Sunrisers to do something to consolidate for the Chargers’ poor show. I think that they will get what they are wishing for, and even if SRH doesn’t win the IPL, they will definitely do better than DC did. With new players like Darren Sammy, Nathan McCullum, Quinton de Kock, and Thisara Perera in their ranks, SRH look a really strong side. Ishant, who is back to fitness, will pair with Steyn to form the spearhead of SRH’s attack. Parthiv Patel should team up with de Kock to open the innings, and spots 3 and 4 will be taken by Sanga and White. The middle order will be filled by Bharat Chipli, Abhisheik Jhunjhunwala, and Ashish Reddy. Amit Mishra and Ankit Sharma can work together to spin the ball. The only players missing from SRH now are Shikhar Dhawan, who is recovering from an injury he sustained against Australia in a test, and JP Duminy, who is still recovering from an injury he picked up when his side was (ironically) touring Australia. Though Shikhar will play after about 2 weeks, Duminy will not play the entire season. I don’t know why SRH bothered to retain Duminy, as next year is team reformation year anyway.

SRH POTENTIAL XI

Quinton de Kock (wk)

Parthiv Patel

Kumar Sangakkara (c)

Cameron White

Bharat Chipli

Abhisheik Jhunjhunwala

Ashish Reddy

Amit Mishra

Dale Steyn

Ishant Sharma

Ankit Sharma

 

Well, after that long article, we move down to PWI. Pune have been just as unsuccessful as DC had been, if not worse. So in this auction, they made some major reforms. They pulled in players like Ajantha Mendis, Abhisheik Nayar, and Kane Richardson. So now they probably have too many options here. They have players like Wayne Parnell, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh and Marlon Samuels out there as well. This will really be a mind boggler for the selectors. But here’s what I think: Let Finch and Manish Pandey open, and Yuvraj, Uthappa, captain Matthews, Ross Taylor and Nayar watch the middle order. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has already spearheaded India in all 3 formats, should join with Marsh to spearhead, and let Mendis and Rahul Sharma take care of the spin. This frees up one extra space, which should go to Ishwar Pandey. Their only injury is Micheal Clarke, who will not play the tournament due to injuries he procured while touring India.

 

PWI POTENTIAL XI

Aaron Finch

Manish Pandey

Robin Uthappa (wk)

Yuvraj Singh

Ross Taylor

Angelo Matthews (c)

Abhisheik Nayar

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Rahul Sharma

Ajantha Mendis

Ishwar Pandey

 

 

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IPL – What’s coming up

The frenzy of the Border – Gavasker trophy, where the Indians successfully whitewashed their opponents the Australians 4 – 0 in a thrilling contest. It was made far more interesting by the fact that Mickey Arthur sent 4 players home, but had to call back 3 of them because of injuries. (Kind of like a teacher sending kids out of the class because they didn’t do their homework, but having to call them back because half the other kids were absent). Of course, now the much awaited Pepsico IPL has arrived. This one, or course, promises to be just as good as the previous ones. However, there will be several players who will be missed, for the first few games at least. The ones who will be missed include Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder (who is currently in coma because he was assaulted), Ross Taylor, Faf du Plessis, Micheal Clarke and JP Duminy. However, there are several new changes this year as well. For one, the Deccan Chargers’ franchise has now become Sunrisers Hyderabad, Ricky Ponting has become MI’s new captain, Angelo Matthews PWI’s, and Virat Kohli RCB’s. However, the biggest development has been that Sri Lankan players have been banned from playing matches in Chennai. This is an absolute outrage, as now every team will suffer while playing in Chennai – particularly MI (Malinga is their best bowler), DD (Mahela’s their captain), SRH (Sanga’s their captain/keeper, and Perera is a key all-rounder), PWI (Matthews is their captain, and Mendis is a key spinner), and RCB (Dilshan is a key top order batsman, and Murali’s their best spinner). As you may have noticed, CSK are not affected by this, as neither Nuwan Kulasekara and Akhila Dananjaya are crucial in their side. Although the other teams will have to play only one game in Chennai, it could still be the difference between qualify and drop. Also, the eliminator will be in Chennai, and it will be suicide for any team to drop key players at this stage. However, moving past that, let’s see what happens this season, and the first match report will be made sometime before the first game, on the 3rd of April. Well, see you then!

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