It's time for some auction

It's time for some auction

Glenn Maxwell, Eoin Morgan and Shimron Hetmyer are some of the batsmen who can attract huge bids at the Players' Auction on Thursday. AFP/ DH Photo

The country is grappling with an unprecedented turmoil, but then the show must go on. And as if bringing a momentary distraction to those inclined, the auctions for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League will be held in Kolkata on Thursday.

Not far enough so as to not to feel the heat but distant enough to remain unobstructed, the bourgeois confines of a five-star hotel will play host to the annual player drafting process. The event, which starts in the afternoon is expected to last till late evening, with 73 slots to be filled across eight franchises. 

Reason for this seemingly fast-tracked (‘mini’ if you want) auction is that the franchises have sent in a pruned list, reducing the number of players from 997 to 332 (186 Indians, 143 overseas players and three from Associate Nations). Six more players -- R Vinay Kumar, Ashoke Dinda, Matthew Wade, Sanjay Yadav, Robin Bist, and Jake Weatherald -- were added to the auction pool later, taking the final tally to 338 players.  

    Each team has a purse of Rs 85 crore, as opposed to Rs 82 crore last season, to complement the core and in some cases build one. Player retention complete, Kings XI Punjab have the deepest pocket coming into this auction with Rs 42.70 crore, while Kolkata Knight Riders have the second-highest money pool to dive into with Rs 35.65 crore. Royal Challengers Bangalore have Rs 27.90 crore on them.

    Although it might sound out of place, it is true that the teams don’t have much money left to bid as generously as they have in the past, meaning those in the lesser brackets, aka Rs 20-50 lakhs, could end up snagging big deals along the way.  

    Money out of the way, requirements need to be considered. 

    Mumbai Indians know a thing or two about building championship teams, having won four titles, and have let go of some prominent names. But much like Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, have maintained a core which has worked for them over the years. The Rohit Sharma-led side go into the latest edition as defending champions with an extra bowling all-rounder to eye. A prodigal local talent to add to the core would do well too. Hint: Yashasvi Jaiswal.   

    Chennai look as though unchanged with MS Dhoni still willing them into being title contenders year after year - banned years excluded. Their composition is pretty established, evident in the five slots left to fill, but they need some batting strength to aid Dhoni’s final-touch acumen. A quality pacer at a relatively decent price won’t be a bad bargain either. 

    The most exciting section of the auction room will be on Punjab’s end of the floor as they look to avoid making some of the mistakes of the past while dipping into their big purse. 

    While most sides have their a core dialled in, Punjab are yet to zero in on a captain after releasing R Ashwin though K L Rahul is strongly tipped to assume the charge.

    Kolkata, meanwhile, have a predicament too, in that their purchases of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi didn’t pay dividends last season, meaning their pace unit looked rather lacklustre. This time around, and since they have retained the injury-free youngsters, they will want to focus on a spinner along with Kuldeep Yadav. 

    Hyderabad will be attending to the bells and whistles, while Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals contemplate a peripheral overhaul with Rs 27.85 crore and Rs 28.90 crore in their bank, respectively.

    Plenty could go right and as much can go wrong, but it will be six hours, or more, of reality television worth viewing. In times likes this, it is a luxury worth entertaining.

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