Dubai: It will be a mini-auction in effect when the annual bidding war for the next edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) is held in Kolkata for the first time later this week on December 19.
A total of 332 cricketers have been shortlisted from a pool of 997 registered players from all the major cricket playing nations, but the eight franchises will be looking to fill up or strengthen particular slots in what would be the last year of a three-year auction cycle.
The auction comes at the back of a busy period of trading in November which saw a number of star Indian players — who often fetch the highest price tags — being traded to other teams. Ajinkya Rahane, the Indian Test vice-captain and a longtime Rajasthan Royals loyalist and Ravichandran Ashwin (who captained Kings XI Punjab last season) were both traded to Delhi Capitals in what were the two most significant changes.
Interestingly enough, no Indian cricketer has been placed at the highest reserve price bracket of Rs20 million this time — which is dominated by five Australians (Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell), Dale Steyn and former Sri Lankan captain and all-rounder Angelo Mathews.
Robin Uthappa, who was released by Kolkata Knight Riders after serving them for a long period (he was the topscorer in the league in 2014 when KKR won it), is the only Indian in the second highest price bracket — Rs10.5 million while three other capped Indian players — Piyush Chawla, Jaydev Unadkat and Yusuf Pathan find themselves with a base price tag of Rs10 million.
There are nine Indians are in the Rs5 million bracket: Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari, medium pace bowlers Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran, all-rounder Stuart Binny, seasoned campaigners Manoj Tiwari and Saurabh Tiwari and wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha, who did not feature in the last season. Neither Pujara nor Vihari have been able to acquit themselves well with the T20 format so far — resulting in Pujara being unsold in the last auction while Vihari was released by Delhi Capitals this year.
The dynamics of the IPL auction may have often left the game’s fans confounded, but the franchises go to the table every year with a lot of indigenous research and planning. Revealing that they have been tied up simulating the exercise of bidding for the last few days, Jake Lush McCrum, COO of Rajasthan Royals told Gulf News: “The simulator helps us find value estimates for all individuals in the auction. Eight of us sit in a room taking a franchise each, researching their needs and then running through the whole auction.’’
“To give an example of the accuracy of our simulations, the last auction went exactly to plan and we saved a little more money than expected,” he added.
The IPL 2020 has been scheduled between March 23, 2020 and May 12, with the opening match between heavyweights Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians scheduled at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
The new working committee of the Indian cricket board, headed by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, has decided to do away with the trademark elaborate opening ceremony as a cost-cutting measure.