Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill-1702916008686
From left: Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gill. Image Credit: Courtesy: IPL

Dubai: The mini auction for Indian Premier League 2024 is to be held outside India for the first time and the Dubai event holds a significant place as teams prepare for the tectonic shift to start a new era for Indian cricket.

The IPL has been acting as the supply chain for Men in Blue for a whopping 16 years and now it is the time to produce new superstars, especially the wrist spinners. Recent developments suggest that the teams are getting future ready, but what is also important is that the teams should keep an eye on future of Indian team with many stars on the wrong side of 30s.

As a start, Mumbai Indians (MI) ushered in the biggest change in replacing skipper Rohit Sharma, who has won five titles for the Paltans, with Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya. While there is a lot of talk on the changes, Mumbai Indians’ move is similar to the one that of Chennai Super Kings, the other most successful team in history of IPL, who handed over the reign to Ravindra Jadeja from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni couple of years ago, only to take it back.

Legacy building

Mumbai Indians could be trialling something similar in the next season and hence the 30-year-old all-rounder was brought back to his former franchise Mumbai Indians after a two-year spell with Gujarat Titans, during which he won the title in 2022 in the debut season and finished runners-up earlier this year.

“It is part of legacy building and staying true to the MI philosophy of being future-ready,” Mahela Jayawardene, Mumbai’s global head of performance, said in a statement on Friday. “It is in keeping with this philosophy that Hardik Pandya will assume captaincy of Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024 season.”

Jayawardene expressed gratitude to Rohit, 36, for his “exceptional leadership” since taking the reins in 2013. “His leadership has not only brought unparalleled success to the team but has also solidified his place as one of the finest captains in the history of IPL,” he said.

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Chennai Super Kings' Ravindra Jadeja, M S Dhoni and Moeen Ali during an IPL match earlier this year. Image Credit: IPL

Dhoni's availability

Chennai is in a similar situation with skipper Dhoni yet to confirm his availability for the next season, but going by the team’s retention list, the 42-year-old “Thala” is headed for another season as a player for yellow jerseys.

Pandya’s move to Mumbai has opened doors for a new captain in Gujarat Titans and the stylish opener Shubman Gill has been appointed as Titans skipper.

“Really excited about Shubman Gill taking over as captain, he is an excellent cricketer, his performance speaks volumes about him as a cricketer … So he has the captain’s asterisk now next to his name which will bring additional responsibilities but I am sure he is excited as we are. We are looking forward to seeing how the story,” Vikram Solanki, Titans’ Director of Cricket, had posted on team’s Instagram page.

While the transition for the leadership roles are in place, it is important to unearth spinners, wrist spinners in particular. There is a surfeit of top-quality pace bowlers, but spin department wears an empty look with just Ravi Bishnoi being the lone wrist spinner from the young brigade to be in the horizon.

Finding spinners

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have all served the Indian team for a considerable amount of time. But it is time to support Kuldeep and Ravi Bishnoi with some fresh faces should Ashwin and Jadeja retire in a few years’ time.

“Replacing Ashwin is going to be a huge task, because I don’t see anybody replacing as good as Ashwin. That’s going to be a big shoes to fill for anyone. Yes, the leg-spinner, even in this Indian team, you don’t have any experience, so that’s something I think the selectors and the concerned people need to look at it,” former India opener Wasim Jaffer told Gulf News.

“We all know what the spinners can do, especially in the whiteball format. It’s difficult to replace Ashwin and we haven’t seen anybody as good as him because he’s different breed altogether, but we need to find few replacements, who were there in the scheme of things when Bishnoi gets injured or something happens to Kuldeep. We need to have the backup for those guys as well.”

Mini auction

It is only a mini auction and as many as 77 slots are now available with up to 30 being slotted for overseas players. Out of 333 players to be auctioned, 214 are Indians and 119 are overseas players of which two players are from associate nations. The total capped players are 116, uncapped players are 215 and 2 from associate nations.

Rs20 million is the highest reserve price with 23 players choosing to be slotted in the highest bracket. Leading international players among them are Australians Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, New Zealand all-rounder Rachin Ravindra, England’s star batter Harry Brook, South African pacer Gerald Coetzee and Sri Lankan leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga. The Indian players to be in the top bracket are Shardul Thakur and Harshal Patel.

Gujarat Titans have the richest purse available, followed by Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, which gives these teams the advantage to fill the required slots. Five-time champions will be eyeing an all-rounder to replace Ben Stokes, who pulled out of IPL 2024 due to workload management.

Few of the promising Under-19 players could find some bidders, but many of them are already part of the leading franchises but they are not able to get their chances in the playing XI. While South Africa’s Dewald Brevis had played many games for Mumbai Indians and Sri Lankan all-rounder Dunith Wellalege has 45 international games to his credit, most of the World Cup-winning India Under-19 team members have not got any chance to play for their respective franchises.

Heavy competition

“These players haven’t got to play in the XI, because obviously the teams are very strong. There are quite a few players in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Punjab. Just winning under-19 World Cup doesn’t give you a license to play in the IPL,” felt Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the Indian under-19 team coach. “It’s a good problem to have that you have talented players, but they still have to earn their way in because there’s already a lot of competition. It’s important for these players to keep developing, that’s the challenge.”

Jaffer, who made a mark as a 15-year-old, concurred with Kanitkar’s views and felt that a few more years of experience will hold the young players in good stead.

“All the franchises are going to sit in the auction table in Dubai, they’ll have a few players in their mind, because the scouts must have been following their performances. But I feel it’s a good thing to get into the mainstream a little longer because that makes them a good player. Sometimes at the under-19 level, not everybody is Sachin Tendulkar, they’re not as mature. So I feel if they spend one or two years at first class level, go through that grind, it only makes them a better player. So somebody playing at 20 or 21 is still very young,” the former opener, who had been part of the Bangladesh Under-19 squad that won the Asia Cup Under-19 in Dubai, he added.