The cat is out of the bag. The eight participating franchisees of the Indian Premier League have announced their respective lists of retained players which means that a number of quality players have been added to the “for sale” list.
While the retained players will provide the franchisee with skill, talent, identity as well as fan following, the game of cricket will always be about collective performance which means that squad building will be much more important than player retention.
This is even more true considering the fact that the cap of 60 crore imposed upon the franchisees leaves different teams with different financial capacities as they enter the auction. For instance, Delhi Daredevils will have their entire kitty of 60 crore to spend whereas Mumbai Indians who have retained the maximum possible five players will only have 21 crore to complete their squad.
This will create a relatively level playing field for the participating franchisees overall but also allow the franchisees like Delhi to exercise more muscle in the auction process.
This article will try to pick a team of 11 players from all departments of the game to provide some insight into the process of team building. In doing so, I will pick up what I consider to be the best possible picks in those departments out of the players that may be available come February 12 when the auction begins.
The selection will also try to closely follow the guidelines of team building which means we will be selecting a maximum of 4 foreign players, some young Indian talent as well as current Indian regulars. Here is a list of XI players who should find multiple suitors when the hammer begins to come down:
1. David Warner
The pocket-bomb was a lone-fighter in the Delhi Daredevils’ ranks last year and would not mind jumping ship this year. Many would have thought that he was a player Delhi could have retained but they went for a complete overhaul, and seem to be putting all their money into new coach Gary Kirsten’s hands.
They still hold onto that “Right to Match” card, which means that Delhi will be able to match the highest bid for Warner if they wish to. Warner had a spectacular Ashes campaign where he redeemed himself of the horrors from the previous campaign earlier in 2013.
His overall IPL record justifies his selection as the opener has 2 tons and 10 fifties to his name at a strike rate of over 130.00 and has average of almost 30.00. He pips compatriot Aron Finch for the position for his greater technical ability, IPL experience and red-hot run of form.
2. Mike Hussey (Captain)
The Australian legend, Mr. Cricket and Chennai Super Kings’ much loved knight in shining armour retired early last year but his stock remains high in the Indian Premier League. This is of course not extra-ordinary as many retired cricketers have taken to the Indian Premier League stage with elan, but Hussey brings a new level of professionalism and will be an excellent addition to any side.
He was the highest run-getter in the last instalment played in 2013 and what makes the achievement even more impressive is the fact that he pipped Chris Gayle for the crown who was in devastating form. Hussey scored an astonishing 733 runs at an average of 52.35 runs with 6 fifties to his credit.
He is deceptively explosive with his orthodox batting style and can play in multiple gears providing anchor when required or battering from the word go. It is hard to believe that he wasn’t retained but the cap over the retention of foreign players means that other teams have the opportunity to make the best of this chance.
Other Options: Aron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Dwayne Smith, Murali Vijay and Virender Sehwag.
3. Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen is already attracting attention in the media after he had a relatively poor showing at the Ashes with the bat. He did finish as Australia’s highest run-getter. Pietersen’s attractive batting style, his natural aggression and superstar status make him an ideal Indian Premier League commodity.
He is a player who comes with a fan-following of his own and is a proven match winner in the shorter format of the game. He was one of the players released by Delhi inspite of the fact that he did not have a major role to play in their disastrous campaign of last year as he was then suffering from a knee injury.
He is experienced enough to lead a side as well so he will be a worthy catch for teams that are planning to revamp their squads. Pietersen boasts of a small but stellar IPL career. He has scored 634 runs in 21 matches scoring at an average of 42.00 at a strike rate greater than 140.00. This might just be a bomb waiting to explode!
4. Yuvraj Singh
Perhaps a controversial inclusion in this list given his recent slump in form but if you are an optimist and prefer to look at the glass as half-full, there are a lot of positives to be had here. The player retention policy entails that all major Indian batting stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina are unavailable for this auction.
Sides like Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils and even Rajasthan Royals need a big name Indian player to attract native fan-following. Moreover, Yuvraj comes with a great amount of IPL experience, leadership skills, world-renowned batting ability and some pretty useful bowling ability.
Not a long time ago, he single-handedly destroyed the Australian pace attack in a T-20 match that India won. And who can forget his full-monty of six-sixes in the inaugural T-20 world cup? This might be the best bargain on offer.
5. Steve Smith
Another Australian on our list. Steve Smith was a part of the now-terminated Pune Warriors side last year but he was one of the few positives that emerged out of their catastrophic campaign. Smith was benched for a great period of the tournament to the fury of many pundits of the game but when he got his opportunity he took it with both hands.
He has loads of aggression but more importantly the ability to back it up with incredible talent. He scores at a heavy run-rate and can provide the final impetus in the last few overs. His Ashes stint could not have been more successful and he was one of the great finds of last year.
Alongside his explosive batting abilities, he can also turn his arm over if required. His fledgling IPL career stats indicate what he can offer: 521 runs in 22 matches at an average of almost 40.00 with a strike rate over 130.00.
6. Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav has been on the margins of the Indian Premier League extravaganza for a while now but he has not made the kind of impact that the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Ambati Rayudu and S. Tiwary have made. The middle-order batsman from Maharashtra has just helped the state defeat giants Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy and has been at the top of the scoring charts. This might just be his turn to come into the limelight.
Jadhav just needs some responsibility and perhaps a role at no. 4 or no. 3 which he has not received in this side. He is an attacking player by instinct, but his durability is suggested by the sheer number of runs he has been scoring at the domestic level in recent years.
Many might not remember his eye-catching debut in the Indian Premier league when he smashed a half-century in just 29 balls for Delhi. He deserves his place in this list for his recent run of form at the domestic level.
Other Options: Mahela Jayawardene, Glenn Maxwell, Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara.
7. Dinesh Karthik
The wicket-keeper batsman has been in and out of the Indian side but he makes a claim for himself every year with the Indian Premier League. He was scintillating for champions Mumbai in the first half of the last edition helping them through a phase when they were not playing their best cricket.
He is a tough character and often shines when the team needs it most. He has the ability to score quickly with a wide array of shots and can guide the innings from a tricky situation. His agility with the gloves is exceptional and perhaps better than that of MS Dhoni.
He scored over 500 runs for Mumbai last season and was unlucky not to be retained. He is picked ahead of Wriddhiman Saha and Quinton De Kock for his last season exploits that remain fresh in memory.
Other Options: Parthiv Patel, Quinton De Kock, W. Saha.
8. Mitchell Johnson
The speedster who is the talk of the town after he scalped 37 wickets in the recently concluded Ashes was surprisingly pipped by Lasith Malinga when it came to retention of players for Mumbai Indians. They still have that “right to match” card but they will certainly have to match a huge fee for this one as the bidding war is likely to be intense and long drawn.
Johnson was looked upon as a player with considerable talent who had under-performed prior to the latest edition of the Ashes but his resurgence began in India under George Bailey’s captaincy when it seemed that he was letting go. Johnson was given the license to strive for pace and pace only as he began cramming it up.
The rewards came soon enough and he has joined Dale Steyn in the conversation for the best fast bowler title. The IPL will be yet another stage for him to showcase his abilities. Moreover, as a no.8 he can do some effective fly-swotting with the willow.
9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The Indian pacer might have fallen out-of-favour recently but his ability in the shorter format of the game is under-rated. He swings the ball both ways and can run-through his four over without giving away anything. A player of infinite potential, he is worthy of interest simply in the fact that he has a spell on one of the most devastating players of IPL cricket: Chris Gayle.
The swing bowler has dismissed Gayle numerous times in recent memory and does the same with all opening batsmen who are vulnerable to late swing. He is an ideal selection in this bowling squad for his ability to swing as opposed to the pace of Johnson and Md. Shami.
10. Mohammed Shami
Shami was Indian cricket’s find in 2013. He made the ball talk in the series against the West Indies dismissing most of his scalps by uprooting their stumps. He relies heavily on his ability to be deceptive with his pace as he constantly clocks 140 kph and also derives whatever little is on offer from the surface.
He hits the seam with consistency and attacks the stumps which makes him a hard bowler to get away. He has a competent yorker which means that he will be more than serviceable in the last few over to the captain. Shami was a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchisee but will be up for grabs in the auction.
11. Amit Mishra
The experienced Indian leg-spinner has been a star performer when it comes to the Indian Premier League. He is a wicket taking bowler who can put the stop on a team in the middle overs. He has a well disguised googly that keeps the batsman guessing and his records speak for itself.
He has taken 95 wickets in 75 career matches at an astonishing economy of below 7.00! He began his career with Delhi Daredevils and has multiple hat-tricks to his name. He was fantastic for the Hyderabad Sunrisers last years taking 21 scalps and it remains a mystery as to why they didn’t retain him.
He has taken a minimum of 11 scalps in every edition of the IPL. He is chosen in this list ahead of the likes of Pragyan Ojha and is perhaps the best T20 operator after Sunil Narine.
Other Options: Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Mohit Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Varun Aron and Ashok Dinda.