As if the idea of an Indian Premier League auction is not exciting in itself, this year, we are set to witness the Mega Auction. With the existing franchises looking to overhaul their squads and lay a new foundation from scratch and two new franchises - Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Supergiants - coming into the picture, expect the league to take things a notch higher.
A total of 590 cricketers are set to go under the hammer during the two-day event. While it is the big players that really create the waves when it comes to the money spent, this year, franchises would be looking to invest in a lot of local talent as teams will hope to carefully construct squads that can bring them return in the long run. Overseas talents and marquee players inject the much-needed experience and fanfare in the teams but it is the quality of local talent that truly dictates the success of the franchise over the years.
A look at the most successful teams in the last decade and a half in the league will tell you that.
Although the Indian domestic season was curtailed due to Covid-19, a look at players during the limited overs games in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy gave us a good assessment of things on the ground.
Some domestic stars such as Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravi Bishnoi, Abdul Samad, Umran Malik, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Arshdeep Singh have already found a place in the announced retentions and drafts. And, there will be some obvious names such as Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel and Deepak Hooda, who will be lapped up by the franchises. However, there are a few players from the domestic circuit that may not be on everyone’s radar but could end up bagging decent IPL contract in the upcoming auctions.
Here is a look at the domestic stars that can go big in the auction:
With an economy rate of 8.41, the left-arm medium pace bowler from Hyderabad finished as the leading wicket-taker on the tables with 18 wickets in seven Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches. He was one of the best bowlers on show in SMAT, as evidenced by his performance against Uttarakhand, where he took 5/16. He also followed it up with an incredible 5/8 against Uttar Pradesh. He also boasts of bowling figures 6/63 against Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He doesn’t particularly rely on express pace while bowling and instead, depends on the left-armer’s natural angle and, self admittedly, his rhythm. Interestingly, he also seems to be far more vested in the returns he can get in white-ball cricket. Franchises that are looking to build their foundations around local talent should ideally pounce on that. Previously, he was part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils set-up.
Tamil Nadu’s Shahrukh Khan has been a talking point in the Indian cricket discourse in the whatever little domestic cricket was played in the last year. When he was last bought in the IPL auction by the Punjab Kings, he was sold at a stunning 5.25Cr. This year, the batter scored 101 runs in 8 matches in the SMAT and 253 runs in 8 matches in VH Trophy. While the numbers may not seem extraordinary, some of his performances truly were. Whether it was the 33* off 15 against Karnataka, or his 66 off 35 against Mumbai during the SMAT or the or in the Vijay Hazare Trophy where he was batting at an incredible strike rate of 139.62. He also showed incredible finesse as a finisher and the ability to absorb pressure in his unbeaten 79 against Karnataka. He’s definitely expected to fetch big bucks in the upcoming auction but he is also looking at a terrific career as a finisher, now that he has also earned his Team India call-up.
Tanmay Agarwal was the highest run-getter in this year’s SMAT scoring 334 runs. The opener relies on his power-hitting as is demonstrated by his strike rate of 148.44 in the tournament but he also possesses the talents to play with a calm, sensible approach. He narrowly missed out on a hundred, smashing a sizzling 97* off 59 balls against Uttarakhand. Agarwal also scored 54 off 34 against Delhi and 62 off 46 versus Uttar Pradesh. The skipper had a crucial role to play in Hyderabad reaching the semi-finals against Tamil Nadu and contributed with a couple of important knocks even in the VH Trophy, namely the unbeaten 77 against Haryana and the 59 against Jharkhand. He has previously been part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad setup but is yet to appear in an IPL match.
Manan Vohra is a familiar name because he has been part of the IPL for some time. He has played for Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals, and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past and has played some knocks to remember during his time with them. However, his success has been sporadic. Franchises will hope his talent can meet consistency soon. The Chandigarh batter not only features among the Top 5 run-getters in the SMAT with 273 runs in 5 matches at a strike rate of 130 but also occupies the 6th spot in the VH Trophy where he scored 379 runs in 5 matches at strike rate of 94.75. Some of his memorable knocks this season include a century against Hyderabad in SMAT, a 77 vs Chattisgarh, a 105 against Madhya Pradesh and a 141 against Maharashtra in VH Trophy.
Again, a familiar name in IPL circles, but Rishi Dhawan surprised everybody with the kind of season he has had. Not only did he guide Himachal Pradesh to a fairytale win in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as a leader but also remained instrumental in getting them to that position. With 458 runs in 8 matches, he scored 5 half-centuries in the VH trophy, to end up second in the list of run-getters. Barring a duck against Uttar Pradesh, the Himachal Pradesh captain scored well against all other opponents. His standout performance also includes the unbeaten 91 against Odisha where he also registered bowling figures of 3/51 and in the final against Tamil Nadu where he scored an unbeaten 42 coming in at No. 6 and picking up 3 for 62. He also occupied the second spot in the leading wicket-takers with 17 wickets in 8 matches during the VH Trophy. Additionally, the seam-all rounder followed it up with a great bowling performance in the SMAT that earned him 14 wickets in 6 games. There were talks about him returning into the Team India set-up against the West Indies but when it did not materialise, a lot of cricket fans were left disappointed. However, a few franchises that will be on the lookout for seasoned Indian players to form a solid core for the near future can be expected to reward the 31-year-old for his performances in the domestic arena. He was previously part of the Kolkata Knight Riders, King XI Punjab, and Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
Here is the list of the top performers in this year’s premier domestic white-ball tournaments for reference:
Most runs in Vijay Hazare Trophy
|1||R D Gaikwad||MHCA||5||603||5||1||168||150.75||534||112.92||4||0||51||19|
|2||R R Dhawan||HPCA||8||458||8||2||91*||76.33||360||127.22||0||5||52||8|
|3||P S Chopra||HPCA||8||456||8||0||99||57.00||622||73.31||0||5||41||12|
|10||K S Bharat||ACA||5||370||5||1||161*||92.50||342||108.18||2||0||39||15|
Most wickets in Vijay Hazare Trophy
|1||Y R Thakur||VCA||7||18||7||62.5||360||5||20.00||5.72||20.94||1||1|
|2||R R Dhawan||HPCA||8||17||8||66.1||397||4||23.35||6.00||23.35||1||0|
|7||A V Choudhary||RCA||6||14||6||52.4||196||3||14.00||3.72||22.57||0||0|
|9||C T Gaja||GCA||5||13||5||46.0||253||4||19.46||5.50||21.23||2||0|
|10||M B Mura Singh||TCA||6||13||6||49.2||184||5||14.15||3.72||22.76||0||1|
Most runs in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
|2||Deepak Jagbir Hooda||RCA||6||294||6||2||75*||73.50||175||168.00||0||4||23||17|
|9||R D Gaikwad||MHCA||5||259||5||0||81||51.80||173||149.71||0||3||32||7|
Most wickets in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
|1||C V Milind||HYCA||7||18||7||24.5||209||5||11.61||8.41||8.27||0||2|
|3||R R Dhawan||HPCA||6||14||6||21.5||156||6||11.14||7.14||9.35||0||1|
|5||A K Karnewar||VCA||8||13||8||32.0||139||4||10.69||4.34||14.76||1||0|
|6||D G Nalkande||VCA||8||13||8||26.0||153||5||11.76||5.88||12.00||1||1|
|7||K C Cariappa||KSCA||9||12||9||36.0||203||3||16.91||5.63||18.00||0||0|
|9||Y R Thakur||VCA||7||11||7||22.1||132||3||12.00||5.95||12.09||0||0|
(Statistics courtesy: BCCI)