With just less than four months to go for the start of IPL 2019, the teams would have already started their preparations for the tournament. The team management will have their task cut out as they will be trying to figure out the right combination for their team going into the tournament.
By now, all the teams would have marked their targets as they sit, bid and take on each other in the IPL Auction 2019 that is scheduled to take place in Jaipur on December 18. While a few teams played it safe in player retention by retaining the core of their side, some let go of the majority of their players in a bid to re-build a team for the upcoming season.
In the upcoming IPL auction, the franchises will bid for the players keeping in mind the possible change of venue from India to either South Africa or UAE and the 2019 World Cup because of which most of the international teams might not allow their players to take part in the whole tournament.
Keeping these things in mind, let us take a look a batsman each team could get in the upcoming IPL auction.
Delhi Daredevils - Shimron Hetmyer
Ahead of the auction, Delhi Daredevils surprised everyone by trading for Shikhar Dhawan from Sunrisers Hyderabad with all-rounder Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem going the other way. With this, Delhi now have Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer in the top-4 and all they need is a good middle-order batsman who can be the finisher in the side.
Shimron Hetmyer had a great time for West Indies when they toured India earlier this year and has put himself in pole position to earn big in the IPL auction. Hetmyer, without a doubt, has the potential to become the next big batting star from the Caribbean islands, especially in white ball cricket.
In the 17 T20 innings, he has scored 498 runs at an average of 31.12 and scored his runs at a rate of 144.34. He could be the middle-order batsman Delhi is looking for and if they manage to get him, their line-up will look dangerous.
Kings XI Punjab: Nicholas Pooran
In IPL 2018, Kings XI Punjab had a great start and as the season progressed, they lost momentum and were knocked out of the tournament without making it to the playoffs. Kings XI rode on the batting of KL Rahul, who scored 659 runs at an average of nearly 55 and a strike-rate of nearly 160, and his opening partner Chris Gayle.
Apart from them, there was hardly any contribution from the middle-order batsmen. As a result, Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh etc. were released ahead of the auction and KXIP will look to address this issue.
One batsman they could target is West Indian youngster Nicholas Pooran. Pooran, who has already won the IPL in 2017 with Mumbai Indians, always had the potential to be a T20 superstar and over the last one year, he has shown everyone why he is one of the most sought-after players in the format.
Even in the ongoing T10 league, he is taking the bowlers to the cleaners. The 23-year-old can be a middle-order batsman and can also double up as an opener if needed. Adding to that, he can keep wickets which will allow Rahul to concentrate only on his batting.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Manan Vohra
Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the few teams that have all their bases covered going into the auction. They have two quality openers in Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine and their middle-order consist of the likes of Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, and skipper Dinesh Karthik. All they need is a backup in case of an injury or if the player's national board calls the player back keeping the World Cup in mind.
Kolkata will look to get a reserve Indian opener and Manan Vohra is one name who fits the bill perfectly. Over the last few years, Vohra has shown his potential in the IPL playing for Kings XI Punjab before moving to Royal Challengers Bangalore, who released him ahead of the 2019 auction. Vohra can be a valuable addition to the KKR side and if needed, he can step up and deliver for them on a consistent basis.
Mumbai Indians: Glenn Maxwell
Mumbai Indians have done a decent job ahead of the 2019 IPL auction as they traded for Quinton de Kock from Royal Challengers Bangalore. They have a strong batting lineup and all they need is a middle-order batsman, either Indian or overseas, who can score some quick runs in the middle overs and take up the role of finisher given that both the Pandya brothers might not play the whole tournament keeping the World Cup in mind.
Glenn Maxwell could be a good choice for that role as he has done it in the past for Australia and in the IPL. Maxwell was released by Delhi Daredevils after having an average season. Maxwell could be a possible gamechanger for MI and if he manages to get his 2014 IPL form back, MI can be a force to reckon with in the next season.
Rajasthan Royals: Brendon McCullum
In the last IPL, Rajasthan Royals' fortunes changed when they asked Jos Buttler to open the batting for them with Ajinkya Rahane. In the 2019 IPL, they might start the tournament with Buttler opening. In all likelihood, Buttler won't be playing the whole tournament, thanks to England's international schedule and if ECB doesn't allow it's players to take part in the tournament, Buttler might not even make it to the IPL.
Royals will look to buy someone who can be a worthy replacement for Buttler if he doesn't play in the tournament. Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who is one of the best T20 batsmen in the world, is one name who could be bought by the Royals. McCullum, who was released by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, will be available for the whole tournament and can be as destructive as Buttler at the top of the order.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Manoj Tiwary
Royal Challengers Bangalore have taken a bold call by releasing the likes of Brendon McCullum, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Quinton de Kock etc. This leaves them with a lot of work to be needed in their batting department. They a few options available for the top-order but the same cannot be said about the middle-order in spite of trading Mandeep Singh for Marcus Stoinis from Kings XI Punjab.
So, a local middle-order batsman is a priority for RCB. Looking at the options available, Manoj Tiwary is one name on whom RCB could go after. Tiwary has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit over the last few seasons but hasn't got enough chances to prove himself in the IPL.
If RCB sign him, that could be a win-win situation for both the parties as Tiwary will get more chances to prove his worth and at the same time, RCB will have a dependable middle-order batsman.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Naman Ojha
Coming into the auction, Sunrisers Hyderabad traded their opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan for the trio of Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, and Shahbaz Nadeem. With David Warner coming back, he is expected to open the batting with Kane Williamson. Sunrisers also released Wriddhiman Saha in the auction and are left with only Shreevats Goswami, who is an opener, as the only gloveman in their squad.
So, they could be looking for a wicketkeeper-batsman who can do well in the middle-order and Naman Ojha is one name who can do the job perfectly. With Sunrisers's middle-order being fragile, the addition of Naman Ojha could add some strength to the lineup that already has the likes of Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Vijay Shankar etc.
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings have released just three players ahead of the IPL auction and have retained almost all the layers who took part in the last season. Chennai has a lot of batting options at their disposal. Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, and Murali Vijay are there to bat at the top of the order.
In the middle-order, they Mr. IPL, Suresh Raina, skipper MS Dhoni, Sam Billings, Kedar Jadhav, all-rounders Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner etc. Adding to these names, they also have Ambati Rayudu, who can bat anywhere in the lineup.
So, by the looks of it, Chennai Super Kings have all their bases in the batting department and it won't be surprising if they don't end up signing a batsman at all in the IPL auction.