IPL Auction 2020: 3 major talking points before the bidding war begins

Renin Wilben Albert

Chris Lynn.

The much-awaited player auction for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 season is fast approaching -- on December 19 in Kolkata. Ahead of the big day, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Monday, announced that a total of 971 players had registered for the 2020 player auction. However, there are only 73 vacant slots available. Franchises have been given time until Monday, December 9 (5 pm) to submit their shortlist of players.

Seven players have listed their base price at Rs 2 crore. Five of them are Australians -- Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh, Chris Lynn, and Glenn Maxwell. While Lynn was surprisingly released by Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the auction, Maxwell recently took a break from international cricket over mental health issues. Veteran South African pacer Dale Steyn and Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews are the two other players in the Rs 2 crore bracket.

As the auction day for IPL 2020 approaches, here’s a look at some major points of discussion.

#3 Will Eoin Morgan finally get his worth in IPL?

Eoin Morgan

In spite of being one of the most dangerous T20 hitters in world cricket, England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan hasn’t made it big on the IPL stage as yet. In fact, he hasn’t been part of the tournament in the last two seasons. While he went unsold in the 2018 edition, Morgan opted out of the 2019 season to focus on the World Cup, a move which worked wonders as England lifted the trophy for the first time. For the 2020 auction, the left-hander has listed his base price at Rs 1.5 crore.

Morgan had an impressive Abu Dhabi T10 season in which he smashed 175 runs in 94 balls at a strike rate of 186.17. His monster-hitting prowess was very much evident in the World Cup when he hit a record 17 sixes against Afghanistan while scoring 148 off 71 balls. Morgan, who formerly played for Ireland, has a highly impressive T20 record. He has featured in 282 games and has over 6,000 runs to his credit at a strike rate of 131.37.

In the IPL, Morgan last played for Kings XI Punjab in 2017, who purchased him for Rs 2 crore. However, he managed only 65 runs in four games. The southpaw’s overall record in IPL is also not great -- 854 runs in 52 games at a strike rate of 121.13. Given the kind of form he is in, that could change if Morgan gets picked at the auction.

#2 Will Tom Banton’s wish of playing for Mumbai Indians be granted?

Tom Banton.

Without doubt, 21-year-old English sensation Tom Banton will be among the most sought after players at the IPL 2020 auction. His reputation has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, so much so that a Daily Mail report claimed two of the biggest IPL franchises, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, have expressed interest in purchasing Banton. The England cricketer, in fact, himself confirmed to ESPNCricinfo that he would love to play for Mumbai Indians.

Banton was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo,

“Playing in the IPL has been a dream from a very young age. You see the big crowds and the attention it has. I am in the IPL auction this year, so fingers crossed somebody picks me. As a kid, I have always loved watching Mumbai Indians. Then I had the good fortune of playing at the Wankhede for the England U-19 team. There was tremendous support at the ground then, even though we lost 5-0.”

On the field, Banton has been constantly grabbing eyeballs. He blasted two fifties in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, including an incredible 80 off 28 for Qalandars against Karnataka Tuskers. Back home, he made people sit up and take notice of his engrossing talent, raising 454 runs for Somerset in their successful One-Day Cup campaign. Banton further amassed 549 in the Vitality Blast, which featured a stunning 100 from 52 balls against Kent.

Banton’s reverse-slaps and scoops have drawn much attention, and even led to comparisons with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Jos Buttler and even AB de Villiers. There is definite excitement over Banton playing in the IPL. How the exhilaration translates into moolah and runs remains to be seen.

#1 Will KKR buy back Chris Lynn?

Chris Lynn

Without an iota of doubt, Kolkata Knight Riders releasing Australia’s aggressive batsman Chris Lynn was the big surprise to emerge as the franchises announced their pre-auction squads. Incredibly, immediately after being released by KKR, the 29-year-old smashed a record 91 not out from 31 balls for Arabians against Team Abu Dhabi in the T10 league. While Lynn asserted he had no hard feelings over being released by KKR, one wonders if the snub actually inspired him to perform better. This particular innings actually led his Arabians team-mate Yuvraj Singh to openly state that KKR made a blunder by releasing Lynn.

The Aussie right-hander finished the T10 league as the top run-scorer with 371 runs in eight matches at a strike-rate of 236.30 with four fifties, the kind of form franchises, including KKR, will find extremely difficult to ignore. Having said that, Lynn had done little wrong in IPL 2019 to be overlooked in the first place. He posted 405 runs in 13 games at a strike rate of 139.65 with four fifties. In the year before that, he smashed 491 runs at a strike rate of 130.23. His consistency actually goes back to 2017, when he blazed away to 295 runs at a brilliant strike rate of 180.98 in seven games.

As mentioned at the beginning, Lynn has listed his base price at Rs 2 crore. Considering his current form and past record, he should end up getting significant bids. Whether KKR go all the way to purchase him back remains to be seen.