Mumbai, Feb. 1 -- The Indian Premier League auction for the sixth edition, to be held at Chennai on Sunday, is expected to be a low-key affair.
In fact, experts predict it could end up as the shortest IPL auction conducted so far. The main interest is around Australia Test captain Michael Clarke, with the new Hyderabad-based franchise, Sunrisers, tipped to go all out for him.
Despite his poor record in T20 cricket, the Australian star can expect a windfall as his name is expected to trigger a serious bidding war.
Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are the other two teams who have enough money in the kitty to compete with Sunrisers but both are not known to go for big-ticket players.
Sunrisers have a remaining salary cap of $7m, Kings XI around $6.8m and Royals around $7.7m.
Also, Jaipur and Mohali-based teams have a settled combination while Sunrisers need a back-up option for captaining their side.
Their first-choice captain Kumar Sangakkara is out of action due to a fractured finger. Also, they are in desperate need of beefing up their batting.
Apart from Clarke, Ricky Ponting's fate will also be keenly awaited. But for different reasons. With a base price, $400,000, equal to Clarke, Ponting may face the embarrassment of going unsold.
Despite their fine showing against India, home and away, there are not going to be many takers for the England players, mainly because of the unpredictability of the England board as they have been reluctant to release their players.
Nayar could benefit
Among the Indians, Mumbai's Abhishek Nayar should command a good price. He is a proven T20 performer. Though he didn't do well for KXIP and was released, he was successful for Mumbai Indians earlier and his city team will be interested in bidding for him again.
All the teams have been closely guarded about their plans for the auction. Super Kings' team coach Stephen Fleming interacted with the press in Chennai but didn't reveal anything.
Asked if CSK would be interested in Ricky Ponting, Fleming said in jest "yeah, we would like to have Ricky."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.