– Atreyo Mukhopadhyay
It’s time to count money again. The mini-auction of IPL coming up in Kochi on Friday will see the franchises plug the holes in their teams and hunt for suitable back-ups. Not all of them have a lot of money to spend, so there will be mid-level buys as well. Here are three overseas and three Indian players who could be in demand.
Ben Stokes (England, base price Rs 2 cr)
Needs no introduction and there is no doubt several franchises will go for him. All-rounders are always in demand in T20s and here is one of the best in the world, if not the one. He has done well in the IPL in the past and is in good form too. Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore cannot possibly afford him because they are not left with a lot of money. Almost all other teams will be interested in him and possibilities of a bidding war are high. That’s because you get two players in the form of one if you buy Stokes. He can be devastating with the bat and also bowl four overs. If fit, Stokes can be the game-changer franchises crave for. Rare species he is, a Test captain who is invaluable in the shorter formats.
Sam Curran (England, base price Rs 2 cr)
Here is another who might be smiling his way to the bank after the auction. A crafty bowler who can be particularly handy on slower pitches and useful batter in the lower order, he is certain to be in demand and several franchises are expected to bid for him. Chennai Super Kings can be particularly interested, considering that they have the gap of Dwayne Bravo to fill. He has played for them in the past and the pitch in Chennai is usually on the slower side. Someone like Curran has a good chance to succeed there in seven home games. Player of the match in the World T20 final and also player of the tournament, he will surely be pursued by other franchises who can afford him.
Cameron Green (Australia, base price Rs 2 cr)
Success in a T20 series in India earlier this year has brought him to the forefront as far as this format goes. Not rated as an impact player in T20s, he changed perceptions in emphatic manner during those outings. Robust as an opening batter who can also be used lower down the order, more than just handy with the ball, and somewhat reminiscent of Shane Watson, this towering all-rounder is another player most franchises would like to possess. Australians have always been in demand in IPL auctions and this 23-year-old is the latest addition to an illustrious list. It would be interesting to see which team bags and him and for how much.
Mayank Agarwal (base price Rs 1 cr)
Not in reckoning for an India berth in any format at the moment, Agarwal suddenly finds himself in a situation where he can be hot property. For teams looking for an Indian opener, there are not many options and this makes him a turn-to guy. He does not have a bad record in IPL either. Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings are among the sides looking for someone like him, which might see Agarwal bag a contract worth significantly more than his base price. Kolkata may not be able to afford him in that case, considering there is very little in their purse. The Karnataka batter didn’t cause ripples in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s and tallied an unimpressive 165 runs in eight innings. But those runs came at a strike rate of 154.20.
N Jagadeesan (base price Rs 20 lakh)
More successful in 50-over games than T20s, five consecutive centuries in the national 50-over championship for the Vijay Hazare Trophy might prompt franchises take a look at him. This applies more to those who cannot spend much, like Kolkata Knight Riders. The Tamil Nadu player adds value as a wicketkeeper as well. He spent most of his IPL time warming the bench for Chennai Super Kings, but current form is an important factor and that makes him valuable. A top-order batter who does a neat job behind the stumps, Jagadeesan is the kind of package franchises often look for. May not get something astronomical, but there might a contest for him for those looking for a mid-level buy.
Samarth Vyas (base price Rs 20 lakh)
Not heard of him, right? He represents Saurashtra in domestic cricket and had a successful outing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, amassing 314 runs in seven innings with an average 52.33. His strike rate was 177.40 and he hit 22 sixes — the most in the competition. A middle-order batter, he has been around for a while, but made his presence felt this season. His career T20 average is above 150. For teams like Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore who do not have a lot of money left, Vyas can be a good choice. All teams need Indian players who can make a contribution and given that he will not cost a bomb, this right-hander is possibly worth a look.