All speculations about who is going to be retained and who is going to released ended on November 15th when the final lists of players retained and released were rolled out by the IPL teams.
While most of the names in both the lists were on expected lines, there were a few surprises as well. Also, some players, who were expected to be released, were retained by the teams. Players like Kieron Pollard, Manish Pandey, Harbhajan Singh, who did not have a particularly good season in IPL 11, were persisted by their respective teams.
However, everything is not lost for players who are released. Most of the released players will register themselves at the auction and with the kind of quality that they possess; they are set to earn big bucks.
There have been instances in the past where players who fizzled out playing for one franchise shined while playing for the other. The prime example of which is Shane Watson, who had a torrid time with RCB but came back next year with a stellar season for CSK. Australian players like Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins might not be available for the entire season and thus might not attract too many bidders.
Here is a look at 5 of the released players who can earn big bucks at the auction.
#5 Axar Patel
Axar Patel will consider himself to be extremely unlucky to be left out of Kings XI Punjab squad for the next IPL. Patel has been a crucial cog in KXIP's machine over the years.
The all-rounder was tantalisingly close to cementing a place in India's ODI side before he was sidelined due to injuries and indifferent form. The rise of other spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav did not help his cause either.
However, Patel is a useful T20 cricketer. While his bowling is tailor made for shorter formats, he is a vastly improved batsman. If Patel can maintain his fitness and form, he can be valuable to any IPL team.
#4 Brendon McCullum
Brendon McCullum is one of the all-time greats of T20 cricket. McCullum's attacking style of cricket has served him well in the T20s. He was the one who gave IPL the best start anyone could have thought of. The swashbuckling opener struck a whirlwind 158* for Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural match of IPL in 2008.
McCullum is one of the few overseas players to have played every edition of the cash-rich league and has played some stunning innings for the teams he has played for. However, his form took a big dip last year. Playing for RCB, the Kiwi scored just 127 runs in 6 innings and was thus released by the franchise before the auction.
However, McCullum has been in good form of late. He finished as the fifth highest run-getter in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League. Looking at his strong IPL record and his recent form, there won't be a shortage of buyers for McCullum.
Also, the fact that he will be available for the entire duration of the tournament and can also captain the side, makes him even more valuable.
#3 Jaydev Unadkat
One of the biggest let down of IPL 2018 was Jaydev Unadkat. Unadkat was a hot property at the 2018 player auction and why not. After having a stupendous IPL 2017, where he was instrumental in Rising Pune Supergiant's run to the finals, the left-arm seamer made a decent comeback to the national side. Owing to which Unadkat became the most expensive Indian player, bought by Rajasthan Royals at 11.5 crores, at the 2018 IPL auction.
However, his performance was disappointing, to say the least.
The Saurashtra pacer took just 11 wickets in 15 matches at a poor economy rate of 9.65. Thus he wasn't retained by the Royals for IPL 2019. However, Indian players are always in demand at the auction.
Unadkat has years of experience of playing on Indian pitches and while he surely won't get the amount he got last season, he can still end up earning reasonably well. Moreover, Unadkat picked up 16 wickets in 8 matches in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018, a thing that can go in his favour when his name comes up at the auction.
#2 Glenn Maxwell
While overseas players earn big money in the IPL, they have a burden of expectations too. Teams heavily rely on the foreign recruit to deliver the goods more often than not. And if they fail to do so, they end up losing their place in the side. The same has happened with Glenn Maxwell.
The destructive batsman has played some sensational innings in his IPL career. Maxwell is a high-risk cricketer and thus while there are chances that he is going to pay you rich dividends; there are possibilities where things can go awry.
Delhi Daredevils released Glenn Maxwell due to his poor show last season. However, you can never write off a player of Maxwell's calibre. If he gets going, he can turn a match upside down in a few overs. Also, he is an excellent fielder and a useful part-time spinner. With so much to offer, it is highly likely that Maxwell will once again be in demand at the auction.
#1 Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch's IPL career is a perfect case of player mismanagement. There are hardly any doubts about Finch's prowess as a batsman. The current Australian limited-overs skipper is a power-packed batsman who can bludgeon the ball fiercely. He holds the record for the highest individual score in T20Is.
However, Finch has been underutilised in the IPL. Finch seems to be playing for wrong teams all these years. Finch, who is basically an opener, has been forced to play in the middle order most of the times.
Finch played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014 where Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner were SRH's settled opening duo, then he played for Gujarat Lions in 2016 and 2017 where Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy, Dwayne Smith and Ishan Kishan were in the squad, while last season Finch had to adjust with his batting position because of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.
Finch has never been allowed to express himself as a batsman in the IPL so far. The 32-year-old has the ability to win matches single-handedly and 2019 just might be the year for him.