Chance to strike the correct balance

Teams will be keen to fine tune their combos

Chance to strike the correct balance

As many as 351 players will go under the hammer, including 230 Indians, when the ninth Indian Premier League Player Auction gets off with celebrity auctioneer Richard Madley pounding his gavel here at a five-star hotel on Saturday.

While a few star players will be hoping to attract handsome bids, several junior players from across the cricketing world will be hoping for a share of the IPL pie as anxious owners, with their strategists by their side, loosen their purse in a bid to form a potential winning combination.

Though most of the teams have got their core group through retention and some buying during trading windows, it will be interesting to see the two new teams -- Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions -- go about their picks to add to the five players each they have bought at players’ draft. The draft consisted of players from two suspended teams -- Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.

IPL followers have been accustomed to MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina batting CSK to many wins but this season onwards the two dashing batsmen will be plotting each other’s fall as they lead Pune and Rajkot franchises respectively. It may not come as a big surprise if the two captains attend the auction along with owners and support staff to bid for required players.

While the two new teams have a purse of Rs 27 crore each to pick their remaining players, Delhi Daredevils, who offloaded most of their players, have a maximum amount of Rs 37.15 crore. There can be some aggressive bidding by these three teams in their bid to beef up their squads. 

Delhi created a sensation in the last auction when they bought Yuvraj Singh for a whopping Rs 16 crore, Rs 2 crore more than what the Royal Challengers Bangalore had paid for the dashing southpaw. The Punjab batsman, back in India’s T20 squad, is likely to generate some bidding competition but the scale is unlikely to match the race witnessed last year after having been released by Daredevils. Yuvraj is among the players with highest base price at Rs 2 crore.

The other marquee players likely to attract big bids are Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson, Martin Guptill among others. Not unlike Raina and Dhoni, Watson had been with Rajasthan Royals right from the edition and the Australian will be one of the most sought after players given his blistering approach to batting and utility bowling. He is also one of the most experienced players in this league, making him an invaluable prospect to any team.

The two batsmen that can potentially break the bank are Jos Buttler and Martin Guptill. Buttler, one of the few English players to be in fray, has been in great form -- he holds the record for the fastest ODI hundred (46 balls) by an England’s batsman. Throw in his wicketkeeping, and the package becomes irresistible. Guptill too has been in red hot form and the Kiwi batsman may have some keen bidders during the auction. 
As the teams look for unconventional players, especially among bowlers, to pack a surprise punch there maybe some unknown name that can go all the way laughing to the bank. Last edition Kolkata Knight Riders bought Karnataka’s KC Cariappa for a whopping Rs 2.40 crore. The mystery spinner since then has been released by KKR and it remains to be seen if he can manage an encore.

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