Like any other IPL player auction, the 2016 auction too was full of surprises and ups and downs. There were some unknown and uncapped commodities who hit the jackpot and made it large at a renowned front. However, agonizingly, some reputed and performing individuals were once again given the cold shoulder and not bought by any of the franchises. The likes of Martin Guptill, Jimmy Neesham, and Kevin O’Brien are bound to be dejected after realizing that despite performing consistently at the T20 front, there were no potential buyers for them.
This edition of the auction too reiterated the fact that why the IPL is the best T20 league across the globe. The basis for the success of a T20 league depends greatly upon the level of competition within the teams of the league. A successful league like the IPL has teams which compete fiercely with each other and thereby provide wholesome entertainment for the viewers. The process of making a league competitive begins pretty much at the auction table. All the 8 IPL teams look extremely strong on paper and have a few match winners who can single-handedly wreck havoc in a T20 fixture.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of teams, which look way too strong on paper. But at the end of the day, the team on paper doesn’t matter, but the actual execution on the field does. The Mumbai Indians for instance, look pretty settled and have their core unit intact. Today, they bought Tim Southee and Jos Buttler, the latter for a hefty price. Southee will add a lot of stability to their pace battery, and Buttler is simply a demolishing package. Buttler, along with Pollard, Rohit Sharma, and Corey Anderson can send shivers down the spines of any bowling attack. On paper, they undoubtedly seem to be the favorites.
Another team, which can be termed as a strong contender is the Bangalore outfit. The Virat Kohli-led side today bought the Man of the Series of the first ever IPL, Shane Watson. With their top 4 consisting of Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers, the Royal Challengers are bound to rewrite batting records. However, their bowling is a little low on firepower, with just Mitchell Starc as a feared bowler. The likes of Varun Aaron, Yuzvendra Chahal along with Stuart Binny would have to step up to shoulder the responsibility.
The MS Dhoni-led Pune side exhibit confidence similar to the Chennai Super Kings. With Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane and Faf Du Plessis in the top order, batting is surely not an issue for the Supergiants. However, the Pune outfit has a few Indian pacers like RP Singh and Ishant Sharma, who don’t play T20 cricket that frequently. Their bowling can be an issue and MS Dhoni would have to lead really well in order to efficiently manage a bunch of mercurial bowlers, also involving Ashoke Dinda. The Pune side also does not have any power hitter who can explode from the very first ball. Dhoni can do that, but he is no longer the Dhoni of the good old days.
Sunrisers Hyderabad acquired players with great precision at the auction table. After stealing Yuvraj Singh for 7 crores, they roped in Ashish Nehra, Brainder Sran, Mustafizur Rahman to complete an army of left arm pacers also involving Trent Boult. They also have the reliable Bhuvneshwar Kumar to lead their new ball attack. The David Warner led side also has some destructive batsmen like Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, and Eoin Morgan. Sunrisers is indeed a team worth reckoning, but they will have to make it count once the tournament begins.
Gujarat Lions are a unit that can blow extremely hot on a particular day, but can also fizzle out on another. Their batting is way too explosive but lacks consistency. Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, and Suresh Raina are among the best trio of the tournament. Their all-rounder prowess too is evident as the likes of Faulkner, Bravo and Jadeja are utility players. Dale Steyn and Praveen Kumar have great numbers in the IPL and then there is also Dhawal Kulkarni in the backup. Praveen Tambe is the lone specialist spinner, and on the Rajkot wicket, that can be a cause of concern.
Two teams that look underwhelming to an extent are the Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils. Delhi, to be fair, unnecessarily shelled out a collective 15.5 crores on Chris Morris and Pawan Negi, two highly untested individuals. The lack of a reputed Indian batsman too could hurt their cause. Their bowling though, looks strong with Amit Mishra, Imran Tahir, Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Shami in the ranks. The Kings XI on the other hand seemed to be absent in the auctions. Currently, they have no captain and Glenn Maxwell, an inconsistent batsman could be leading them. Punjab also have inexperience in their bowling unit and if they are to win, the duo of David Miller and Glenn Maxwell would have to lead by example.
Kolkata Knight Riders are very comfortable with their core unit as the Gautam Gambhir-led unit made few buys in the 2016 auction. The Knight Riders acquired an old member, Jaydev Unadkat as a backup pacer. Their overall side looks strong with Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan being proven match winners. They should make it to the qualifiers, judging by their side on paper.