The 2017 IPL auction is less than a week away and the franchise representatives would have already set their eyes on their respective targets. There will be 351 names that will go under the hammer on February 20. Of the 351 players on the list, 122 are international players and the remaining 229 are uncapped players
This year’s auction includes players from Afghanistan and UAE as well and it won’t be a surprise if the Afghan Internationals are picked by any of the teams. In all likelihood, England’s Ben Stokes will get the highest price in the auction with his teammates Jason Roy, Tymal Mills etc. being among the big money signings.
At the same time, there will be a few unexpected names that could be bought by the teams. Let us take a look at 5 potential surprise buys going into the auction.
#5 Lungi Ngidi
South African Lungi Ngidi might have played just three T20Is for his country but could fetch a lot of money in the upcoming IPL auction. The lanky fast bowler can bowl over 140 kmph without much fuss and is equally good with the new ball and at the death overs.
The 20-year-old right-arm pacer was sensational against Sri Lanka in the three-match T20I series in which he picked up 6 wickets at an average of just over 7 and a strike-rate of 8.
However, it is very early for us to come to a conclusion about his T20I numbers as the sample space is too low. Though he has proven himself in the South African domestic circuit as he has taken 30 wickets at an average of 22 and an economy of just over 7.
There are few teams that need a good fast bowler and Ngidi is a safe bet for those teams as he won’t cost much and at the same time, is capable of delivering consistently and winning matches for his teams.
#4 Mitchell Santner
Mitchell Santner was a revelation when New Zealand came to India during the 2016 ICC World T20. The all-rounder ended up as the tournament’s leading wicket taker (excluding the bowlers from associate nations who played in the qualifiers) and is one of the reasons why New Zealand upset India in the first match of the tournament and went on to reach the semis.
Apart from his bowling, he can also contribute with the bat and score some crucial runs down the order. The slow left-arm spinner was also New Zealand’s best player in the three-match Test series in India in which the visitors lost 3-0. There is no doubt that he is capable of doing well in these conditions.
With most of the teams looking for a good spinner and the auction pool consisting of a limited number of spinners, it won’t be a surprise if Santner is picked for a huge sum in the upcoming auction.
#3 Rashid Khan
It won’t be a big surprise if Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan is picked by any of the IPL teams in the upcoming auction. Rashid is one of the better utility players in T20s and ticks all the boxes that are needed to be successful in this format.
The 19-year-old leggie has scalped 31 T20I wickets in 21 matches at an extraordinary average of 16 and an economy of just over 6, numbers that are too good in this format.
He is also someone who is equally good with the bat as is known to play some cameos down the order for his team. It is too early to come to a conclusion about his batting in T20Is as he has played just 6 innings in which he averages 31.50 with a strike-rate of 150.
But, his numbers in the ODI format will give an idea of how dangerous he is with the bat. He has 261 ODI runs in 14 innings at an average of 23 with a strike-rate just over 95, which is not bad for someone who bats at no. 8.
He was also the second highest wicket taker in the 2016 World T20 (taking the qualifiers into account). Rashid is currently ranked fifth in the ICC T20I rankings and is above the likes of Sunil Narine, R Ashwin, Mustafizur Rahman etc.
#2 Nicholas Pooran
Not many would be familiar with the talented West Indian batsman Nicholas Pooran. Pooran is just 21-years-old and has earned a reputation for himself as one of the promising T20 batsmen in the Caribbean. After a decent run in the domestic T20 matches, he was drafted into the West Indian team for the T20I series against Pakistan in UAE but didn’t have the kind of debut series he would have expected.
The wicketkeeper-batsman might average just 18 in the format but he is someone who can change the game in a matter of few balls, something that is very evident from his strike-rate of 144. In 2013, when the batsmen around the world were struggling to get going against the West Indian mystery bowler Sunil Narine, a 17-year-old Pooran smashed the spinner all over the park in his innings of 54 off just 12 balls. Out of the 54, 22 came from Narine’s bowling.
IPL franchises, watch out for this youngster and get him for a low price before his demand increases.
Nabi is yet another Afghan International the teams will look to spend their money on. He brings balance to the team as he is equally good with both bat and ball. The 32-year-old all-rounder is capable of scoring quick runs with the bat as he has scored 704 runs at an average of 17.6 in T20Is.
He can be a useful number 7 for the teams that do not have a good depth in the batting department. Nabi is a wicket-taking bowler who has 138 wickets in 118 matches in the format.
The rate at which he picks up a wicket puts him at the top among other bowlers as he strikes once in every 17.8 deliveries and averages just above 20 runs for a wicket. He also has an economy of 6.88, something that is impressive for an off-spinner in the T20 format.
Nabi was the leading wicket taker in the 2016 ICC World T20 (including the qualifiers) and is currently ranked thirteenth and fourth in the ICC T20I rankings for bowlers and all-rounders respectively. With most of the teams looking for an all-rounder or a spinner, chances of Nabi getting picked by a franchise in the 2017 IPL auction looks high.