578 cricketers to go under IPL hammer

It is the biggest auction of IPL when as many as 578 players will go under hammer for the 2018 edition in Bengaluru for two days from Saturday. The mentors, the supporting staff and the owners will be making calculations and strategies to capture the best players in the auction. The most sought after player will undoubtedly be England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has a base price of Rs 2 crore.

Also in the top bracket will be the likes of R Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Mitchell Starc, Chris Gayle, and Dwayne Bravo to name a few. Stokes, who has been in the news for wrong reasons after his night brawl incident a few months ago, remains the star attraction. After a record-breaking 14.5 crore when now defunct Pune Supergiants bid for him, will be in the focus on Saturday. The aggressive all-rounder raked up 316 runs in 12 matches for Pune last year, along with 12 wickets, to justify his hefty price tag. There could be some furious bids for this controversial but star all-rounder by the eight franchises.

With Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals back in the fray, there could be a lot of excitement, especially when Ashwin’s name will come up for auction. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already hinted they will definitely try to get back the Indian off-spinner.

Ashwin will be among the first lot of two sets of eight players each, who have been tagged as “marquee players”. Apart from Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, West Indies duo of Gayle and Kieron Pollard, Australia speedster Mitchell Starc and Stokes will be in the first set. All these players have a base price of Rs 2 crore each.

Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh) and Glenn Maxwell (Australia) and international captains Joe Root of England and Kane Williamson of New Zealand are in the second set of marquee players’ list.

In the second set, all have them have base price of Rs 2 crore barring Shakib Al Hasan (1 crore), Root and Williamson (both 1.5 crore each). For the first time, England Test skipper Root will be in the reckoning and he could generate some interest. Although the big-hitting Gayle has not been retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore, they may go for the new ‘right to match’ rule, which states that teams can retain players by equalling the final bid.

Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have retained skipper David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, would be keen to keep Rashid Khan. The new Afghanistan leg spin sensation has been growing in stature ever since he made his debut last year and has already struck a purple patch in the ongoing Big Bash in Australia. He may go for a higher purse, given his phenomenal performances of late. In fact, there could be intense bidding for both Stokes and Rashid Khan.

Wrist spinners like Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal would be in the radar for some intense bidding along with other players like KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, and Dinesh Karthik.

Among the eight teams, Rajasthan Royals, who return along with CSK after completing the two-year ban, have retained Steve Smith and have the highest purse left. They may go in for a few big players.

A few Indian under-19 players like Shubham Gill, Prithvi Shaw, new pace bowling star Kamlesh Nagarkoti could draw the attention of the eight franchises.

Whether or not Mumbai Indians would retain Hyderabad skipper Ambati Rayudu is to be seen with great interest on Saturday. Pace bowler

Mohammad Siraj, too, could attract the eyeballs of the owners. It is to be seen whether SRH could be keen on retaining him.