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Time for the big money game

G Unnikrishnan Bangalore, Feb 11, 2014, DHNS :

Pietersen, Anderson will be in spotlight as franchises step in for the auction

big man: Kevin Pietersen will be much sought after at the auction today.

At first glance, there are a few strands that connect Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Corey Anderson.

Pietesen’s colourful and often controversial England career has come to a grinding halt after a disastrous Ashes, Sehwag is still hopeful of an India comeback despite spending the last year or so at the sidelines, selectors have given Yuvraj another lifeline drafting him into the World T20 squad and Anderson is the hottest property now after smashing the fastest hundred in one-day cricket against the West Indies last month.

But these four indidviudals standing in different worlds will command a lot of attention during the two-day Indian Premier League auction beginning here on Wednesday. Let’s start with Pietersen. Of course, England has distanced themselves from this troubled genius but there will be a lot of bidders for the Surrey man in the auction. For the explosive right-hander can change the course of a match on his own and still remains one of the finest match-winners and big-match players.

“He is a genuine match-winner. There is a few middle-order batsmen who is talented as Pietersen and imagine someone as explosive as him coming in at No 4 or 5. It’s a huge advantage for a team because he can either organise a chase with precision or he can blow away bowlers emphatically in a bat-first scenario. Another advantage having Pietersen is that he is a great public figure, a natural speaker -- in short someone a business house can happily bank on for advertisement. So, he’s an all-round property and of course he’s an experienced cricketer too,” said one of the franchise officials.

Yuvraj offers a similar story as Pietersen. He may have been struggling to find his range in Tests and one-dayers since his return from a life-threatening cancer but his performance in the T20s has remained rather stable, evidenced by the four man of the match winning efforts in his last six T20 games. As such the Punjab left-hander remains a value-for-money buy. Among the quartet, Sehwag, who figures in the highest base price category, faces the most uncertain time as it looks highly unlikely that the Delhi Daredevils will buy him back in the auction. It would have been an easier option for them to retain him.

One of the franchise officials offered an explanation: “Yuvraj still can make a big impact in the T20s. He’s an explosive batsman and he has shown that against a T20 match against Australia in Rajkot. I think, Yuvi is one of the best suited player for T20s and of course, he’s a more than handy spinner too who can give you 2 or 3 tight overs. There’s no question about Viru’s class. He’s a genuine match-winner in all formats but he has not scored any runs in the last year even in the Ranji Trophy. It’s unlikely that he may go unsold but we have to see how much (money) he attracts,” he said.

According to another official, Anderson may just be the star of the auction. “We all have seen what he can do with the bat. He’s a powerful batsman who can clear the ropes with ease and the smaller boundaries here suits him perfectly. Also, he’s an excellent bowler, adding that much value as an all-rounder. Just wait and watch the rush for him.”

While there may not be an Andersonsque rush, the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Mahela Jaywardene, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell and Umesh Yadav could create a stir. Or will it be the turn of some uncapped players like KL Rahul or Kedar Jadhav to become the millionaire?


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