The IPL auction looms once again and while some teams discard their poor performers and stack up on better resources, some others go the numerology way and change the team name. The primary goal for all of them, though, is pretty similar – find their best combination before the IPL kickstarts late March, 2019.
The first way to do it was in the trading window when several teams swapped players or dropped contracts. The second is the upcoming IPL auction, the gala festival that Indian fans celebrate while some of the lucky foreign players walk off with a fortune. The IPL auction is scheduled for December 18 at Jaipur and the IPL franchises would hope to make best use of their remaining purchase amounts.
Primarily, they would look to stay away from making the mistakes they committed in the last auction. Letting go of opportunities to sign a pretty good player ought to be top of the list and here we try to identify five players unsold from the previous auction who could be in demand this time around.
1. Hashim Amla
The South African opener was surprisingly unsold at the 2018 IPL auction, a flabbergasting choice when you consider that he had a tremendous season in 2017 for Kings XI Punjab. Amla made 420 runs at an average of 60.00, including two centuries, but was unwanted by all teams in the 2018 auction.
Given some of the tough conditions on offer in some of the matches last season, Amla was a costly miss by most franchises. Contrary to popular opinion, he is a pretty good T20 player and has a formidable record to show for. He currently plies his trade in the home T20 league, the Mzansi Super League, for Durban Heat and could be a potential big buy at the IPL auctions in mid-December.
T20 numbers: Mats – 144, Runs – 4176, Avg – 32.37, SR – 127.78
Reason why franchises could be interested: His religious consistency can be an asset at the top of the order, something franchises lacked the last season.
2. Adam Zampa
The young Aussie leg-spinner grabbed headlines in 2016 when he picked up 6/19 in an IPL game for Rising Pune Supergiant, but has since then flown under the radar. He had an ordinary year in 2017 and was unsold in the 2018 IPL auctions, another surprise given that leg-spinners are usually in high demand. With a wide array of deliveries up his sleeve, Zampa is an enticing option in the shortest format of the game and he has proven as much for Australia of late.
The blonde leggie troubled the Indians in the recent bilateral series and finished with an average of 14.67 aside from a pretty good economy. That Zampa troubled the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma would have caught the eye of IPL franchises and it is highly unlikely that he would go unsold this time around. In fact, Zampa could well initiate a massive bidding war in the IPL 2019 auctions.
T20 numbers: Mats – 100, Wkts – 112, Avg – 21.65, Econ – 7.24
Reason why franchises could be interested: Recent form and being a leg-spinner is an added advantage.
3. Dale Steyn
The Steyn Gun is back and how! After a long injury lay-off, Steyn has hit top gear for the Proteas of late, clocking speeds of 150 kmph and more, and has been in phenomenal form in the limited overs arena. Steyn was a crucial member of the Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise before injuries sidelined him and eventually saw him go unsold.
Concerns surrounding his ability to put the injury behind and bowl full tilt have prevented franchises from investing on him, but all those doubts have been put to rest in recent months. Steyn’s searing pace, renewed vigour and exceptional hunger should see him be a vital card at the auctions this time around. He has overs under the belt and form to show to push forward his case.
T20 record: Mats – 194, Wkts – 220, Avg – 21.85, Econ – 6.69
Reason why franchises could be interested: His reputation and recent form showing he is well past his injury. Has one of the best economies for fast bowlers in the format.
4. Nicholas Pooran
The wicket-keeper batsman from West Indies is a highly underrated T20 player. He was unsold in the 2018 auctions after Mumbai Indians released him from the title-winning squad of 2017. Pooran is yet to make an appearance at the IPL but going by recent form, it may not be that far away. He recently topped the run charts in the T10 League, cracking 324 runs in nine matches at a strike rate of 245.45 in Northern Warriors’ title-winning campaign.
A T20 mercenary of sorts, Pooran has played in the Caribbean Premier League, Pakistan Super League and Bangladesh Premier League and boasts of an exceptional record in this format of the game. Pooran is further likely to receive attention after his 25-ball half-century against India at Chennai in November. He could bag a massive deal if franchises have done their research work ahead of the auctions.
T20 record: Mats – 78, Runs – 1249, Avg – 19.51, SR – 141.12
Reason why franchises could be interested: Recent form and that strike rate. Pooran could be an undervalued T20 finisher down the order or an opener who dictates terms in the powerplay.
5. Johnny Bairstow
The ever-reliable England wicket-keeper batsman is a highly regarded Test player but in recent times has converted himself into a more than handy shorter formats batsman. In the recent T10 League, Bairstow walked in and slammed a 24-ball 84 showcasing his penchant for scoring at a rapid rate. Bairstow is grossly underrated and is also capable of donning the anchor role in the middle-order and could be a value buy this year at the auctions.
Recent form further augers well for Bairstow. With several franchises being affected last season by the lack of a proper middle-order batsman who can score runs at a good strike rate, Bairstow is one guy they would be keenly watching. That the IPL is just before the World Cup is the only factor that plays against Bairstow who could be withdrawn before the end of the tournament by England Cricket Board. That, though, shouldn’t deter franchises from shelling out a few bucks for his services early on in the season.
T20 record: Mats – 96, Runs – 1649, Avg – 24.61, SR – 126.45
Reason why franchises could be interested: Like with Amla, Bairstow’s consistency and ability to utilise the powerplay overs. Recent form also augurs well for the Englishman.