The 2020 IPL auction is set to take place in less than three weeks, and debates and discussions on who the franchises should target have already begun. The teams will have their hands full trying to figure out their team combinations. They would also have to take into account the purse which they have ahead of the auction.
Many teams released a noticeable amount of players ahead of the auction, opting to go for a revamp. With many big names set to go under the hammer, a lot of big bids can be expected.
In the past, bowlers have attracted higher bids than batsmen. In last season's auction, Jaydev Unadkat and Varun Chakravarthy were the most expensive players, bought for ₹8.4 crore each. With bowling becoming increasingly important in T20 cricket, we can expect that trend to continue.
Also see - India West Indies schedule
On that note, let's take a look at one bowler that each team would look to sign.
Chennai Super Kings - Sheldon Cottrell
CSK didn't tinker much with their squad ahead of this season and released just 6 players. While they finished runners-up with this squad last season, they seem ill-equipped to repeat the feat in 2020. Most of their players are aging, and while they still boast of a strong spin attack, their pace battery lacks steam.
Deepak Chahar and Lungi Ngidi are in good form but they don't have any other pacer they can rely on, especially since Dwayne Bravo's death bowling abilities have dwindled. Bravo didn't make a single meaningful contribution for CSK with the bat last season and is as good as a bowler now. His economy rate has been rising in all the T20 leagues where he's taking part, and with age not on his side, CSK must get another quality pacer in their side.
Sheldon Cottrell will be the right man for the role. CSK don't have a single left-arm pacer in their side and signing Cottrell will give them a variety of options to choose from.
Cottrell has had a brilliant year; he performed very well in the World Cup before shining in CPL 2019, where he picked up 12 wickets. He's now a regular in West Indies' limited-overs setup and is in good form ahead of the auction.
The Caribbean pacer, who went unsold in the auction last year, is sure to attract heavy bidding this time around. But with CSK needing to fill just a couple of slots to complete their squad and armed with a budget of ₹14.6 crore, they would be among the front-runners to get him on-board.
Delhi Capitals - Jaydev Unadkat
The Delhi Capitals released a whole lot of players ahead of the auction and have many spots to fill. They were the most active team during the trade window and brought in Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin while trading out Trent Boult and Rahul Tewatia to MI and RR respectively.
After trading Boult and releasing Chris Morris, their pace battery looks understaffed, and they don't have a single left-arm seamer in their squad. Adding an overseas pacer might hamper their squad balance, so they could look to get an Indian pacer like Jaydev Unadkat to address their issues.
Unadkat was released by RR after a poor season where he picked up just 10 wickets from 11 matches at a horrendous economy rate. This came after he was bought for a whopping ₹8.4 crore at the auction.
While RR were justified in releasing Unadkat, Delhi can profit from this move. The Saurashtra pacer has been brilliant outside of the IPL and was the side's highest wicket-taker in both the Vijay Hazare and the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy this year. While he struggled on the slow wicket in Jaipur, he might do better on the moderately paced wicket in Delhi.
Unadkat can share the death bowling duties with Kagiso Rabada, and is a strike bowler. With all his stats pointing the right way, Delhi should sign Unadkat and bolster their pace battery.
Kings XI Punjab - Pat Cummins
Kings XI Punjab released 9 players at the trade deadline, including skipper R Ashwin. They have the biggest purse (₹42.7 crore) ahead of the auction, having released expensive players like Andrew Tye, Varun Chakravarthy and Sam Curran.
While there are many areas which they'll look to address, the most important one will be the pace bowling department. After trading Ankit Rajpoot to RR, Mohammed Shami is the only decent pacer left in Punjab's squad, considering Hardus Viljoen seems to be more of a backup option.
To bring some sting to their pace attack, they should look to sign someone like Pat Cummins at the auction.
The Aussie pacer has had a brilliant year for his country and is a key player for them in all formats. He's the No.1 ranked Test bowler currently and is in the top 5 in the ODI bowlers' list too.
The right-arm speedster last featured for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2017 where he had a good season, picking up 15 wickets from 12 matches at an average of 24.86. He was signed by MI in the 2018 auction but missed the season due to injury.
Cummins is a proven T20 performer and has picked up 92 wickets in 77 games at a good economy of 7.76. He can open the bowling as well as bowl in the death overs, and has genuine pace that can rattle any batsman.
Cummins is someone who doesn't rely too much on variations and performs the same way on all kinds of wickets. He's a perfect fit for KXIP, and they must look to sign him no matter how much he may cost.
Kolkata Knight Riders - Dale Steyn
KKR have a lot of gaps to plug at the auction, considering the side released many big names at the trade deadline. KKR had a sub-par season in 2019 and wEre saved only by Andre Russell's heroics and Shubman Gill's timely knocks. Their bowling was poor and their pace battery failed miserably.
They need to address the latter issue at the auction, and will be looking to sign someone like Dale Steyn.
The fiery Proteas pacer has made a brilliant comeback from injury while playing for the Cape Town Blitz in MSL 2019. He's the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 15 wickets in just 8 games at an economy of just 7.09, and averages a fantastic 15.13.
Steyn played for RCB last season and picked up 4 wickets in two games before sustaining an injury which ruled him out of the season.
Now that he's back in the auction pool, a team like KKR will be desperate to get him. He's very experienced and has picked up close to 250 T20 wickets. He can bowl at all stages of the game and does well during the death overs.
Steyn is in great form and he can add a lot of value to the side if signed at the auction.
Mumbai Indians - Piyush Chawla
Mumbai Indians have the strongest squad ahead of the auction as a result of their smart moves during the trade window. They have just one area to address, and that is the spin bowling department.
In a bid to strengthen their middle order, they traded leg-spinner Mayank Markande to the Delhi Capitals in return for Sherfane Rutherford. They now seem a tad understaffed in their spin bowling department and must sign someone like Piyush Chawla to complete their squad.
The leg-spinner was released by KKR ahead of the auction after a rather underwhelming season. He picked up just 10 wickets from 13 matches at an economy of 8.96.
But barring last season, Chawla's performances in the IPL have been terrific. He has picked up 150 wickets overall in the league.
Chawla's performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy make him especially attractive as an option. He was the best bowler for Gujarat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, picking up 9 wickets in just 6 games at a brilliant economy of 5.16. And in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he picked up 17 wickets in just 11 games at a good economy of 4.44.
With over 250 T20 wickets in his career, the 30-year-old looks like the best option for MI to sign. He can add value to the side with his experience, and can do well alongside Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya.
Rajasthan Royals - R Sai Kishore
RR also traded off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham to Kings XI Punjab in return for speedster Ankit Rajpoot. They have a pretty big purse of ₹28.9 crore at the auction as they released Jaydev Unadkat.
RR have a pretty decent pace attack with Jofra Archer, Ankit Rajpoot and Varun Aaron in their ranks. While they do need a backup pace bowling option, they can acquire one at a cheaper rate. More pressing is their need for another spinner.
Rajasthan have three Indian spinners in Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia and Mayank Markande but all three of them are leg-spinners. Also, while Gopal doesn't rely much on turn, Markande relies heavily on it and struggles on surfaces that don't offer spin. Tewatia is just a part-time spinner and a backup option for them.
RR need to sign a finger spinner like R Sai Kishore to strengthen their side. The left-arm orthodox bowler from Tamil Nadu has been brilliant this domestic season and has cemented his place in the side.
Sai Kishore was the highest wicket-taker in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, picking up 20 wickets in just 12 matches at a miserly economy rate of 4.63. He has also performed very consistently in the TNPL and was the leading wicket-taker in the 2017 season.
Sai Kishore is an accurate bowler who doesn't rely much on turn. He can bowl at all stages of the game and can choke the opposition openers during the power play.
RR need another kind of spinner to partner Gopal, and Sai Kishore fits the bill perfectly.
Royal Challengers Bangalore - Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc is undoubtedly going to attract heavy bidding during the auction as many teams will be looking for quality pacers. At the top of that list will be the Virat Kohli-led RCB.
RCB released six of their eight overseas players, retaining only AB de Villiers and Moeen Ali. As a result of their releases, they have a pretty big purse of ₹27.90 Crore and this time, they must ensure that they shell out their cash on a player who deserves it.
RCB's pace bowling department didn't do too well last season as everyone barring Navdeep Saini failed to live up to the expectations. That's where Starc comes in.
The Aussie is in the form of his life and was the highest wicket-taker in World Cup 2019. He has picked up more than 130 wickets in 96 T20s at a brilliant economy of 7.10.
Starc needs no introduction to the IPL, having already played for RCB in 2014 and 2015. He picked up 20 wickets in IPL 2015 at a great economy of 6.76, but injuries stopped him from taking part in the tournaments which followed.
Back to full fitness now and bowling with great rhythm in all formats of the game, Starc should be signed by RCB to give themselves a chance of winning the trophy next year.
Sunrisers Hyderabad - Chris Jordan
SRH have a habit of putting together quiet yet successful auctions, usually being the shrewdest team at the table. They released just 5 players ahead of the auction and apart from lacking a good middle-order batsman, they look quite settled.
But there was one other issue which they encountered last season, and which might prompt them to get a backup pacer like Chris Jordan. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's injury and poor run of games affected the team a lot and barring Khaleel Ahmed, none of the SRH pacers managed to inspire confidence.
With Billy Stanlake being injury-prone, someone like Jordan might be able to provide them with the required backup firepower.
He is in good form for both country and franchise and has asserted his place in the national T20I setup. He did well for the Maratha Arabians in the T10 League and also for the Trinbago Knight Riders in CPL 2019.
Jordan has picked up more than 175 T20 wickets and is a very experienced campaigner. He bowls well at the death and is also a clean striker of the ball, with the ability to bat at No. 7 or No. 8 for the side.
SRH's bowling attack is pretty strong already, but signing someone like Jordan would give them additional flexibility.