In bowler-friendly IPL auction, focus on batsman Steve Smith

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Chennai, Feb 17 (IANS) The Indian Premier League (IPL) mini-auction on Thursday could see a huge demand for bowlers even as Australian batsmen Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, and Glenn Maxwell, England’s Dawid Malan, all-rounders Chris Morris of South Africa and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan could be the hottest properties.
Smith, the Australian batting mainstay was released by Rajasthan Royals recently after he failed to put up big scores for them. He may, however, find interest from Punjab Kings (PK), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), or Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who all are looking to strengthen their batting.
Labuschagne could also evince interest from the three franchises, especially from KKR or CSK.
PK have a heavy purse left with Rs.53.2 crore and they could go in for Smith (base price: Rs 2 crore) or Labuschagne (Rs.1 crore) or both.
At the moment, they have a settled top three but with uncertainty over Chris Gayle’s availability for all matches, they could be looking to include Smith whose price could challenge both KKR (remaining purse: Rs 10.75 crore) and even CSL (remaining purse: Rs 19.9 crore).
Maxwell (Rs 2 crore), who cost Punjab a whopping Rs.10.75 crore the last time but was released, could also be in line to picked again by Punjab at a much lower price. This could be true of Chris Morris (Rs 50 lakh) also, who was bought for Rs.10 crore by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) but was released ahead of this auction.
“If the player is overpriced then franchises can let go off a top player and buy him back at a lower price,” an official in the know of things told IANS.
Both Maxwell and Morris could also find some interest from either CSK or KKR. Both franchises are looking for a finisher. KKR’s Andre Russell failed with the bat last time and was exposed against short deliveries.
Rajasthan Royals, whose batting is already settled, will look to shore up their fast bowling and find support for Jofra Archer, who is with them. They have Rs.37.85 crore available.
Among pace bowlers that could be up for grabs would be Kyle Jamieson of New Zealand, who has performed well over the last year, and England’s Mark Wood who is also a handy batsman. Umesh Yadav, who was released by RCB this season, is expected to be a hot property.
“Most of the teams’ spin line-up is settled. Hence it will be pace bowlers who will be up for grabs. Also, since the IPL will likely be held in India and Mumbai looks the best bet for IPL bio-bubble due to the infrastructure, fast bowlers would be needed to play a bigger role,” said the official.
While both Mumbai Indians (MI) and Delhi Capitals (DC), the finalists this year, seem to have a settled unit, they have less money left and that rules out the possibility of them going for too many big names. MI, who have Rs.15.35 crore left, have four slots for foreigners left (out of seven) after they released James Pattinson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, and Nathan Coulter-Nile, all pace bowlers. They also released Sherfane Rutherford.
DC have three (out of eight) slots for foreigners left.
Shakib Al Hasan, who did not play the IPL last season as he was serving International Cricket Council (ICC) ban, for failing to report a bookie approach, could also be in demand due to him being a top ranked all-rounder in ICC rankings. KKR may look to buy the player who has played for them before.
The franchises could also show keen interest in Indian uncapped players who showed their ability to hit hard in the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy — Shahrukh Khan (Tamil Nadu), Vishnu Solanki (Baroda), and Mohammed Azharuddeen (Kerala).
Another player who would be followed keenly at the auction would be Sachin Tendulkar’s son, Arjun. He is a left-arm seamer who has played just two T20s for Mumbai. RCB, who have released Shivam Dube, could go for him.
Former India opener and two-time IPL winning captain Gautam Gambhir said that RCB would be interesting to follow at the auction.
“There are not many fast bowlers going around in the Indian circuit at the moment. So, probably, [RCB] releasing Umesh Yadav was the big surprise. Probably, they will look at someone like Glenn Maxwell because they need to get take a lot of pressure out of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers,” he said on Star Sports.

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