It is that time of the year again. It’s time for the IPL auctions. The IPL has turned out to be the biggest T20 league in the world since its inception in 2008. Nearly every team has won the coveted IPL trophy except for three teams.
Hence, analyzing what these teams have done in the past could reveal what they should look to do in the future if they are to inch closer to their first IPL win. By analyzing areas where they need to improve on, we can determine the type of players they should target heading into this year’s auction. We would also love to hear what you (the readers) think, so please feel free to voice your own opinions in the comments section below.
Delhi Daredevils have been the most unsuccessful team in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL). They have finished at the bottom of the points table 5 times while they have made the playoffs only 3 times. In fact, the last time they qualified for the playoffs was in 2012. It’s safe to say that they have had a horrid time, both on the field and at the auctions.
Last year, DD was to be led by Gautam Gambhir who was responsible for turning KKR’s fortune around, but Gambhir’s poor form resulted in him resigning from captaincy midway through the tournament. Instead, he made a selfless decision of appointing Shreyas Iyer as his successor. This worked since DD started winning a few matches with Iyer at the helm. This also means that a few smart decisions at the auction this year should result in a much better season.
But what do Delhi need to do at the auction?
Let’s look at what has let them down in previous seasons. They struggle to get off to good starts, and even if they do, they lose their way in the middle order. They have also struggled to defend totals. Hence, they are lacking a solid opening pair, a good middle order batsman and strong Indian bowlers.
When it comes to the opening conundrum, they need another opener who can complement the aggressive nature of Prithvi Shaw. While they have obtained veteran opener, Shikhar Dhawan, he isn’t as consistent as they (DD) would like him to be. They should also be on the lookout for a solid backup to Dhawan in case he misfires with the bat.
Delhi Daredevils should either target Hazratullah zazai or Mohammad Shahzad at the auctions. Both these players were at their best at the Afghanistan Premier League topping the run-scoring charts. The Delhi conditions would be perfect for these two, and their aggressive batting styles could make for an entertaining opening partnership with Shaw.
DD are also short of a really good middle order batsman. They need someone who can bat with Rishabh Pant. Maxwell’s release means that the number 5 spot is up for grabs. But who is the ideal choice?
At the moment, the best option could be Delhi batsman - Milind Kumar. He is off to a dream start in the ongoing Ranji season amassing an aggregate of 679 runs including back to back double hundreds. He was part of the DD lineup in 2014, but he didn’t get a chance to showcase his skills. His current form could carry into the IPL which should take care of Delhi’s middle order woes.
But scoring huge totals won’t be enough if they don’t have the bowlers to defend those totals. They have a few good overseas bowlers like Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada and Trent Boult, but they lack a quality Indian bowling unit. Jaydev Unadkat and Varun Aaron could fill in the blanks this year. Unadkat was picked up at last year’s auction for a shocking amount of money but failed to perform well. He only picked up 11 wickets at an average of 44.18. However, he recently picked up a 7 wicket haul against Chhattisgarh in the Ranji season.
On the other hand, Varun Aaron failed to get picked up at last year’s auction, but he has rejuvenated himself this year. Aaron looks in solid form and has picked up two 5-wicket hauls in his last two Ranji matches. This form could translate into a successful IPL season, and Delhi would be lucky to capitalize on it.
Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab have been eccentric in the auctions in recent years buying any player in sight. But what they have lacked is strategic purchasing decisions. While they have made great purchases in the past, they have also made rash decisions at the auctions based on impulse. These decisions have resulted in KXIP never winning an IPL title.
Looking at KXIP list of retained players, it is quite clear that there are a few blanks which need to be filled. They got their opening pair sorted, but have forgotten to retain a solid all-rounder. But most importantly, they lack a depth in pace bowling. There are a lot of changes which need to be made in order for them to stand a chance at winning their first IPL title.
But where do they start?
A change in leadership could be what the doctor ordered. While Ashwin did a great job at the start of the tournament, they failed to get any wins in the business end when it really mattered. Ashwin showed that he lacked leadership skills needed to make strategic on-field decisions. This leaves KXIP desperately in need of a captain and they should turn to David Miller. He has proved he has leadership abilities in the past and has captained KXIP on previous occasions.
KXIP also lack a good all-rounder. With the transfer of Marcus Stoinis, this leaves a huge void that perhaps only Maxwell could fill. The Australian all-rounder has shown some signs of returning to form in the recent T20I series against India. He has scored 958 runs this year at an average of 30.9. Let’s not forget Maxwell played a huge role in 2014 when he almost lead them to their first IPL trophy. If Preity Zinta decides to go for him at the auctions, it will be a most welcome homecoming.
KXIP were always known for having a weak bowling unit, but this year could be different. They retained the core of their bowling - Ashwin, Tye and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. But they still lack a few more pace bowlers that could suit the Punjab conditions. Mustafizur Rahman and Athisayaraj Davidson could be a perfect fit. While ‘The Fizz’ could be a perfect backup to Tye, Davidson could very well be the talk of the season.
The Tamil Nadu pacer was in sublime form in the TNPL picking wickets on a consistent basis with his unique bowling action that resembles Lasith Malinga. Moreover, very little is known of this youngster and he could be the surprise package that KXIP were looking for all along.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB have always had a solid team, yet they are devoid of their first IPL win. They have two of the very best batsman in world cricket and have yet struggled in more ways than one. So what is so horribly wrong with this team that has prevented them from a successful season.
One of the major problems that has plagued this franchise is the lack of openers. The release of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul last year left a huge void that no one could fill. This also meant that Kohli had to open for his team. Hence, this year the focus has to be on building a strong foundation starting from the openers.
RCB would be smart to place their bids on Aaron Finch. The Australian T20 captain is having a great year in T20s so far scoring 1349 runs at an average of 49.96 with 3 centuries to his name. Everyone knows what he is capable of and Bangalore’s small ground could help elevate his form.
For the past few years, RCB have put a lot of pressure on AB de Villiers. This is due to the fact that RCB don’t have anyone who can rescue the innings should de Villiers fail. Hence, having a great number 5 batsman like Shemron Hetmyer could solve this problem allowing de Villiers to play freely. We all witnessed what this young West Indian batsman can do in their recently concluded series against India, and I’m sure that the RCB skipper also took notice of his talent.
While they are known for having a destructive top order, they are also known for having the worst bowling lineup in the IPL. But you can’t really blame the bowlers because the Chinnaswamy stadium is just too small to contain any batsman. If that’s the case, what type of bowlers should RCB target?
Should they go for fast bowlers or medium pacers? Targeting bowlers who can consistently vary their pace like Mohit Sharma and James Faulkner seem to be a wise decision given Bangalore's pitch conditions. Mohit has had success in the depth bowling for Chennai SuperKings. He is known for his pace variation which the RCB team are desperately in need of. Faulkner is another player who could play a pivotal role for RCB. He has had massive success when playing at the Chinnaswamy stadium and could contribute with the bat at the lower order.
The Australian all-rounder has a lot of variations to his name including a mean back of the hand delivery that has seen him dismiss many batsmen in the past. He (Faulkner) may be the missing piece that they (RCB) need to finally lift their first IPL trophy.