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IPL Auctions 2017: A Player For Your Team

by iplgeek 0 Comments

Ben Stokes can most could have an extraordinary impact on many franchise — but who will buy him? (Image from espncricinfo.com)

We are now just hours away from the eagerly anticipated IPL Auctions for 2017. This auction is the 3rd “remedial” (as I like to call it) auction, where teams aren’t looking as much to build a new side (on average), but are rather looking to secure the few players they need to strengthen their weaknesses from the previous season. With some of England’s finest limited overs players making their debut in the IPL Auctions, it will bring an extra dimension of interest.

This article will focus on one player who could impact each franchise the most. This does not mean that player is the only player who could make an impact, nor that this is the only player the franchise can buy; just the one who could impact them the most. Hence, if you want to know which player could certainly turn around (or boost) your team’s fortunes, read on:

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Johnny Bairstow

Came Close: Ben Stokes, Corey Anderson

While David Warner was second only to Virat Kohli last season, the SRH middle order struggled to register runs, and this flaw came dangerously close to choking them in the Final, before Ben Cutting did his part. Not only does Bairstow bring strength to that middle order, but also brings a brand of aggression that was not seen enough in the Sunrisers lineup barring Warner. In addition, his ability as a wicket-keeper allows SRH to be flexible with Naman Ojha and the rest of their Indian batting contingent. He narrowly edges out Ben Stokes and Corey Anderson because the Sunrisers’ bowling is already above and beyond, and because of the presence of technically similar all-rounders in Moises Henriques and Ben Cutting.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Tymal Mills

Came Close: Trent Boult, Ben Stokes

RCB’s bowling has always been an issue, and is even more in light of Mitchell Starc’s recent departure from the side. While RCB do posses other bowling reserves – such as Tabraiz Shamsi, Adam Milne and Samuel Badree – injuries have not been kind to them, and hence having the insurance of a frontline seamer will be invaluable for the Challengers. Mills also worked with RCB’s head coach Daniel Vettori whilst playing for the Brisbane Heat earlier this year, strengthening his appeal to the side. He narrowly edges ahead of Boult on stats and base price. Stokes is also a strong contender, but the presence of Shane Watson and RCB’s plethora of Indian batting talent edges him out.

Gujarat Lions: Ben Stokes

Came Close: Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan

Gujarat’s only major problem in a table-topping debut season was the fact that their bowling attack struggled to defend totals – they won only the solitary game against the Delhi Daredevils batting first (by 1 run). This is a problem further exacerbated by the injury to Dwayne Bravo, which puts question marks on his participation during the season. Stokes could directly remedy the problem with Bravo, and contribute to the Lions’ smothering, all-out aggressive batting approach. While their Indian bowling contingent is something they will most certainly have to look into, Stokes’ bowling can also aid

Kolkata Knight Riders: Patrick Cummins

Came Close: Chris Woakes, Irfan Pathan

KKR essentially let go of what is essentially their entire overseas pace contingent ahead of the auction, perhaps looking to pick up one or two quicks in this auction to replace them. Now, with Andre Russell banned over doping charges, the Knight Riders will need to take that into account as well while rebuilding. Pat Cummins functions as a perfect platform for that. While his 2 crore base price is slightly high, his ability to throw down absolute thunderbolts, coupled with some skillful hitting at the back end of the innings, makes him the ideal starting pick for the Knight Riders. While there are other bowlers and bowling all-rounders in the pool, Cummins’ relative bowling strength to others with a similar batting capability sets him apart.

Mumbai Indians: Mohammed Shahzad

Came Close: Jason Roy, Johnny Bairstow

Mumbai have had trouble with opening combinations since the days of Sachin Tendulkar, and 2016 was no different. Like the Lions, they too struggled to defend totals, not due to poor bowling, but due to a batting lineup that didn’t seize enough initiative up front, like they did in their victorious 2015 campaign. In fact, one could go as far as to say that the injury to Lendil Simmons hurt them more than the injury to Lasith Malinga. Mohammed Shahzad could help solve this problem. His fearless hitting at the top could set a base for Rohit Sharma, and later the finishers in Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler, to give MI some truly unassailable totals. The fact that he offers another wicket-keeping option edges him slightly ahead of his closest competition.

Delhi Daredevils: Ben Stokes

Came Close: Angelo Matthews, Corey Anderson

Delhi Daredevils’ campaign was a truly remarkable one, built on a strong backbone of India’s youth, supported eagerly by upcoming stars from all over the world. Constant (and sometimes unnecessary) tinkering is one of the possible reasons as to why they did not make a semifinal spot. Ben Stokes can settle the squad, and hopefully form a solid base around whom the Daredevils can construct the rest of their side. Matthews and Anderson would be great for this too, but current form favors Stokes. In addition, Delhi’s auction purse is second only to KXIP, meaning that they will have an edge should the bidding get heated.

Rising Pune Supergiants: Mohammed Nabi

Came Close: Corey Anderson, Ben Stokes

Rising Pune Supergiants have a strong top, but lacked depth in their batting. In addition, Pune unfortunately failed to fully utilize their spin resources, shown as Adam Zampa did not play until the back-end of the tournament, and R Ashwin was criminally under-bowled. However, Nabi would be able to remedy both problems at once, adding a few runs lower down the order and be a valuable spin resource. This would allow the Supergiants to exploit the spin of their home pitch, and by doing so build a side similar to the KKR side that won the 2012 IPL. Stokes and Anderson are equally competant, but Nabi’s spin – and the presence of Mitchell Marsh – mean they take second place.

Kings XI Punjab: Ben Stokes

Came Close: Corey Anderson, Angelo Matthews

Punjab’s poor performance in 2016 was mainly attributed to the fact that they lacked an “X-factor” player; someone who delivers sensational performances that single-handedly bring victory, inspiring their teammates in the process. This was reflected as they released only 4 players – 3 overseas players and one costly Indian player. This shows that KXIP have very specific players in mind, and are willing to spend heavily on them. It would not be a radical leap of faith to assume that Stokes is most certainly one of those specific players. While the other two will also likely be on KXIP’s list, Stokes is most definitely a forerunner.

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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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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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Delhi Daredevils: Season Preview

As I have said in every season preview, view my podcast for some of my words of wisdom on the team:

The Delhi Daredevils have had a revolution going on. After a dismal 2013 season, where the Mahela Jaywardene-led side slipped to a 9th place finish, they have enlisted some major reforms, and really looked to start fresh in 2014. After dropping all their players, including Virender Sehwag, they went into the auction, and had a ball. After splurging a bit by picking up up Kevin Pietersen at Rs. 9 crore ($1.5 million), and Dinesh Karthik at Rs. 12.5 crores ($2.1 million), they went for some more decent buys, like JP Duminy (Rs. 2.2 crore), Ross Taylor (Rs. 2 crore), and James Neesham (Rs 1 crore). That was not the end of the Daredevils’ spending spree however, as they ended up spending their entire 60 crore quota (which is the highest possible purse size). So now the heavily beefed up Delhi squad looks like it can steamroll anything that comes in its way. Looking forward to see the KP-led squad move towards its first ever IPL trophy.

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

Murali Vijay

Mayank Agarwal

Kevin Pietersen (c)

Ross Taylor

JP Duminy

Manoj Tiwari

James Neesham

Mohammed Shami

Jaydev Unadkat

Shahbaz Nadeem

Siddhart Kaul

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IPL Auctions 2014 – A Look Back

Hey guys,

Firstly, I’m really sorry I couldn’t do any pre-auctions reviews this year. I had an unfortunately high amount of work and also fell sick, so I really had no time to do them.

However, because of that, I’m going to make this post-auction review the best it can possibly be. I’m not going to go in depth on each team, but I’m going to touch on the highlights, and talk about a few things. Hope you enjoy 🙂

At ₹14 crore, Yuvraj Singh was this year’s most expensive player.

This IPL auction was something different for several reasons. Of course, it was the quarterly team revamp auction, but it also featured many different twists to it. For instance, it was done in Indian Rupees, included the Right to Match cards (which you can read about here), and also included uncapped players. While the other two definitely have their own effects, the latter is probably the most crucial, because it meant that teams would have to look to literally build their entire squads in this auction, and would not simply be able to buy some stalwarts in the auction and look to pick up the uncapped players later. Hence, it required a whole new scope of planning from the franchises as they made their purchases in this auction.

There were plenty of highlights of course; most of all was Yuvraj Singh going to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for a hefty sum of 14 crore rupees – which is roughly $2.26 million – making him the second most expensive player in IPL history. His inclusion into the RCB side, along with Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers, means that they have what is arguably the most devastating batting unit in the tournament. Next to Yuvraj was Dinesh Karthik, who was snapped up by his first franchise the Delhi Daredevils for an explosive sum of ₹12.5 crore which is around $2.02 million. It was also exciting to see Virender Sehwag  (I do not speak for Delhi fans when I say this) purchased by the Kings XI Punjab, even if it was for a relatively small sum for someone of his stature. Some of the other interesting purchases included the little-known New Zealand quick Matt Henry (CSK), the Zimbabwe wicket-keeper batsman Brendan Taylor (SRH), and the young Australian T20 opener Nic Maddinson (RCB). Another player who earned a surprisingly high sum was the uncapped Indian all-rounder Karan Sharma. Although he was eventually bought back by his former franchise the Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was not before his price had shot up from a mere ₹30 lakh to a mammoth 3.75 crores (about $600,000), which was more than what capped stars like Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, and Brad Hodge got.

The best post-auction squads, in my opinion, are those of the Sunrisers, Kings XI, and Royal Challengers. Kings XI probably made some of the best bargains of the auction, picking up players like Mitchell Johnson, George Bailey, Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Thisara Perera; none of whom cost them more than 7 crores. The Sunrisers were probably one of the happiest franchises after the auction, after they walked out with guys like Aaron Finch, David Warner, and Naman Ojha combining with the already-retained Shikhar Dhawan to make up the SRH batting. In addition to this, their overall bowling attack now consists of Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Parveez Rasool, Amit Mishra, and Darren Sammy (which is already enough to make any batsmen pee in his pants), not even including their bench strength. The best part? None of their prices exceeded ₹5.5 crore. With RCB, it is easy to see why their side appears so intimidating. Not many look at a batting order containing Gayle, Kohli, de Villiers, Yuvraj, and Albie Morkel and say “that’s not good enough.” To add to their batting power, they pulled in former Sunrisers keeper batsman Parthiv Patel – who struck some crucial blows at the top of the order for SRH in both IPL 2013 and CLT20 2013 – India’s U19 World Cup hero Vijay Zol, and the talented Kenyan batsman Tanmay Mishra. Their bowling will be spearheaded by the Ozzie new-ball gun Mitchell Starc, ably assisted by Albie, Varun Aaron – one of India’s fastest bowlers today – Ashok Dinda, and Shadab Jakati. Hence, this RCB side resembles the one  the Delhi Daredevils had in 2012, with the beefed up batting and the pace-reliant attack.

Another thing that surprised most was that not many Sri Lankan players were picked at all. In fact, only two – Muttiah Muralitharan and Thisara Perera – were picked in the entire auction. While there are many factors that could possibly have lead to the franchises turning their back on them – most prominent of which is their tour of England that would lead them to miss a large portion of the tournament. Despite that, I find it very surprising that no franchise was willing to make a long-term investment in a T20 specialist like Mahela Jaywardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, or Ajantha Mendis. Of course the franchises may show more interest when they appear in next year’s auctions, but the unconventional shortage of Sri Lankan stars will be something new to the league this year.

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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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KKR vs DD – A post-match review

Well, the IPL has started with another banger. The Kolkata Knight Riders managed to snatch a 6 – wicket win from their opponents the Delhi Daredevils. Gautam Gambhir won the toss for the Knights and chose to field first on the Eden Gardens track. The defending champs sent out a very clear message of what their intentions were this season as Brett Lee took out Unmukt Chand’s off stump in the very first ball of IPL 2013. Newly appointed skipper Mahela Jaywardene reminded KKR why he was worth the $1.4 million he was brought for, and responded by flicking the second ball for four. He then combined with David Warner in a 43-run stand which was going along comfortably at 7 an over. Then it happened. Narine. He bowled a dream delivery to have Warner caught at slip for 21, which was the turning point of the game. Mahela watched in horror as one by one, his partners fell at the other end. No one other than Warner and Mahela scored a double digit. Manpreet Juneja, Naman Ojha, Johan Botha, Andre Russell and Irfan Pathan all scored a total of 32 runs. So poor Mahela – not for the first time – had to shoulder more than he could, and eventually perished for 66 in the 19th over. After him, the hosts quickly cleaned up the tail to end DD’s innings at 128. Narine was thick among the wickets, as he snared not only Warner but Pathan, Russell, and Ashish Nehra. The T&T spinner ended with figures of 4 – 0 – 13 – 4. DD started well, with Nehra removing the dangerous Manvinder Bisla in the second over of the innings. However, Gambhir then unleashed himself on the Daredevils, and made 40+ run stands with Kallis and Manoj Tiwari before departing for 42 in the 13th over. Tiwari fell a few balls later, but Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan ensured that the Knights won their first game of the season. Interestingly, this is the 4th time KKR are featuring in the opening game of an IPL, and this is the third time they have won. Sunil Narine was Man Of The Match, as he was literally playing with the batsmen, and taking wickets for fun. Well, that’s it for today. The second game, between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, will take place at the same time. Come back in a few hours for the match preview. See you then!

Mahela Jaywardene’s 66 was not enough to take the Daredevils to a win.

 

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DD vs KKR – A Preview

Well, IPL 2013 has finally arrived. Less than 3 hours away is the first match of the season. Yaaaayyyyyy!!!! Anyway, this preview is something I have been itching to write for a long time, and now here it is. So let’s look the two teams: The Delhi Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders. Both were relatively quiet, finishing with 3 and 2 players respectively. KKR brought in Sachithra Senanayake and Ryan McLaren, whereas DD roped Jesse Ryder, Jeevan Mendis, and Johan Botha.

Now let’s look at the teams. Delhi have had something to worry about in the form of their inexperienced middle order. Now without Ross Taylor, spots 4, 5, and 6 are quiet vulnerable, should the opposition bowling have the required quality. Also, Virender Sehwag is injured. So what I think should be done is this: plug in David Warner and Unmukt Chand to open the innings; and allow Mahela to drop to number 4. This should work, at least till Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder get back. For their bowling, Morne Morkel will not play the opening game either. Hence, there is one more overseas spot up for grabs. This will most likely go to Roelof van der Merwe, who will form a good trio with Johan Botha and Pawan Negi to slow the ball down. Also, van der Merwe has exhibited excellent quality batting at number 3, which would really be of help to the Daredevils today. The pace bowling shouldn’t be too much of a worry, considering that DD now have Ashish Nehra, who will join hands with Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan to spearhead the visitors’ attack.

DD Potential XI:

Unmukt Chand

David Warner

Roelof van der Merwe

Mahela Jaywardene (c)

Venugopal Rao 

Naman Ojha (wk) 

Irfan Pathan

Johan Botha 

Pawan Negi

Ashish Nehra

Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav

KKR are considering becoming the “second CSK” this year as they try and defend their title. To do that, they will need a balanced and backed-up side like the one the two-times champions have got. However, for this first game at least, they will miss Brendon McCullum and James Pattinson, in addition to Shakib Al Hasan, who is away playing on national duty and will not return till May. It is most likely that Manvinder Bisla will keep wickets, and open with skipper Gautam Gambhir. This means that there are still two overseas slots left. One of these should go to Sachithra Senanayake, who was brought by the Knights at a massive $625,000. Senanayake will form a good spin duo with Sunil Narine. The other will most probably be Ryan McLaren, who had moderately good outings in South Africa’s recent clashes with Pakistan and New Zealand. Jacques Kallis – despite having just recovered from injury – should stand tall at number 3, while the middle order is filled by Manoj Tiwari, Debatra Das, and Yusuf Pathan – who is in desparate need of some form .

KKR Potential XI:

Gautam Gambhir (c)

Manvinder Bisla (wk)

Jacques Kallis

Manoj Tiwari

Yusuf Pathan

Debatra Das

Ryan McLaren

Rajat Bhatia

Sachithra Senanayake

Sunil Narine

L Balaji

CLASHES TO WATCH:

Irfan Pathan vs Gautam Gambhir: Irfan has wrecked the top order of many sides in the past, and will try to do the same today. However, if Gauti latches on to him, game on.

Sunil Narine vs Mahela Jaywardene: Narine is KKR’s most succesful spinner, and Mahela is easily DD’s best player of spin. It will be crucial that Mahela take on Narine, lest let his other inexperienced batsmen suffer his wrath. Although Narine has breached Mahela’s defences before, the latter can still take on spinners very well. Let’s see what happens today.

David Warner vs L Balaji: David Warner is one of those batsmen who likes to latch onto bowlers from ball one. However, if Balaji can repeat his heroics from last year and defuse Warner early on, nothing like it.

Yusuf Pathan vs Johan Botha: Yusuf Pathan is now in a really desperate need of some form. Now with Shakib’s absence, Yusuf is the platform for KKR’s middle-order fight backs. Botha is easily DD’s best spinner at the moment, and if he comes down hard on the KKR line up, it will be Pathan’s duty to take him on.

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