The preparations for the 2019 edition of the IPL are in full swing now. The next edition of the IPL is likely to be preponed due to the clash of dates with the 50-over World Cup and is most likely to be held outside of India as the 2019 General elections in India are scheduled during the same time.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has asked all the eight franchises to submit the list of released players and have set a deadline of November 15 for the same. IPL has two trading windows with the first one starting just after the end of the season and is open before a month to the auction and the second one after the auction ends till the start of the next tournament. In 2018, IPL also introduced a mid-tournament window for franchises to trade uncapped players and players, who have played two or fewer matches.
Some of the franchises have swung into action. It has been confirmed that Sunrisers Hyderabad has traded Shikhar Dhawan to Delhi Daredevils in exchange for three players. In other changes, Quinton de Kock has moved to Mumbai Indians while Mandeep Singh has been traded to Kings XI Punjab in exchange for Marcus Stoinis.
With the auctions likely to be held in mid-December in Jaipur, we take a look at an Indian bowler each IPL franchise should release before the auctions.
#8 Jaydev Unadkat - Rajasthan Royals
Jaydev Unadkat created history last year by becoming the highest paid Indian bowler in the history of IPL, going for Rs. 11.5 crores to the Rajasthan Royals. However, his performances on the field failed to match his selling price as the star from the 2017 edition of the IPL failed to pick up wickets when it mattered the most. The left-arm medium pacer from Saurashtra picked up just 11 wickets from 15 outings at an economy of 9.5 runs per over.
Unadkat’s off-cutters have become predictable and batsmen line him up as a left arm finger spinner. His performances in the domestic circuit as well have not been that inspiring. Rajasthan did ever so well in reaching the playoffs with such a brittle squad last year. It should release Unadkat before the auctions for the 2019 edition and should utilize that money in bolstering their batting line-up which desperately needs an overhaul.
#7 Sandeep Sharma - Sunrisers Hyderabad
The Sunrisers have a very potent bowling attack. Their squad is filled with some very skilled Indian fast bowlers. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, and Sandeep Sharma can get you the much-needed wickets at the top. However, there is a kind of sameness to their attack. The trio can struggle when the conditions are not conducive to swing/seam bowling. Also, the fact that all of them are in the military medium range in terms of pace, they can be easily targeted by the opposition batsmen.
The most glaring example of this was seen in the final of IPL 2018 where Shane Watson destroyed them with some belligerent hitting. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddarth Kaul were their leading bowlers last year. Hence, the Sunrisers should release Sandeep Sharma for the next season of IPL and should try to bring in a genuine quick bowler in the upcoming auctions to bolster their bowling line up.
#6 Mohammad Shami - Delhi Daredevils
Mohammed Shami has been India’s leading bowler in Test cricket. The fast bowler from Bengal has the uncanny knack of picking up wickets. But the India star tends to struggle in the shortest format of the game. Shami has picked up just 21 wickets in all of the IPL seasons. In trying to pick up wickets with the new ball, Shami sprays it around a bit too much and is quite expensive. At the death as well, Shami lacks control with his yorkers.
Last year, Shami played just 4 matches for the Delhi Daredevils and picked up 3 wickets at an economy of more than 10 runs per over. He was subsequently dropped in favour of the younger crop like Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel. Delhi should get rid of him before the upcoming auctions and should instead try to sign an experienced bowler at the auctions who can provide them with the control at the top and in the death overs.
#5 Vinay Kumar - Kolkata Knight Riders
Vinay Kumar was bought for the base price of INR 1 cr by the Knight Riders at the 2018 auctions. It seems a heck of lot money for a guy who has played just 16 matches during the previous 3 seasons in the IPL and has managed just 12 wickets. Vinay leaked 17 runs off the last over to hand an improbable win to the Chennai Superkings in a league game during the 2018 edition. He played just one more match throughout the remaining season for KKR.
Kolkata has some excellent young new ball options in the form of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi. KKR also have Prasidh Krishna who was very impressive in his debut season in the IPL. On the other hand, Vinay Kumar is well past his sell date. Kolkata’s team management should release Vinay Kumar and should instead try to bring in an experienced overseas fast bowler as the current pace bowling department is way too short on experience.
#4 Mohit Sharma - Kings XI Punjab
The career of Mohit Sharma has taken a downturn ever since the 2015 World Cup. The former CSK star has struggled to impress in the IPL during the past few years. Mohit has picked up just 33 wickets during the last 3 years in IPL. During the last year as well, Mohit picked up just 7 wickets from 9 matches and went for more than 10 runs per over. Mohit’s USP was his back off the hand slower delivery which batsmen struggled to pick in the death overs. But now the Haryana pacer has become too predictable and is clobbered around the park at the end.
Punjab have a good variety in the pace attack in the form of Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye, and Barinder Sran. Mohit is surplus to their requirements at the moment. Punjab’s team management should release Mohit ahead of IPL 2019 and should instead sign a capable middle-order batsman as the middle order batting was their Achilles’ heel last season when the bulk of the scoring was done by the likes of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle.
#3 Murugan Ashwin - Royal Challengers Bangalore
The fan-favourite Royal Challengers Bangalore is one of the few sides yet to lift the IPL trophy. The 2018 campaign ended in another disaster as the Virat Kohli led side finished at the number 6 spot. Bowling has been the perennial problem for RCB who like to fill their squad with big hitters but lack in adequate depth in the bowling department.
In the 2018 Player Auction, RCB picked up the leggie Murugan Ashwin for a price of INR 2.2 Cr. But, with Yuzvendra Chahal already in the playing XI, Ashwin struggled for game time and played just 2 matches last year. RCB already have a good variety in the spin department in the form of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, off-spinner Washington Sundar and left-arm spinner Pawan Negi. Ashwin is surplus to their requirements as he does not bring anything new to the table. Having already released Quinton De Kock to the Mumbai Indians, RCB should bring in a marquee batsman in place of Ashwin.
#2 Pradeep Sangwan - Mumbai Indians
Pradeep Sangwan has been around for ages now. However, the 28-year old from Delhi hasn’t done anything of note during his 9 years in the IPL. Pradeep has played just 8 matches during the last 3 years in the IPL. Mumbai Indians is his fourth team in the IPL, having already represented Delhi Daredevils, Gujarat Lions and the Kolkata Knight Riders. Given his ordinary performances with the ball in IPL, it was a bit staggering to see Mumbai splurge INR 1.5 cr to acquire his services last year.
Sangwan played a solitary game last year and went wicketless. Mumbai have a power-packed batting line-up to boast about but are paper thin in the pace bowling department. With Jasprit Bumrah most likely to skip IPL 2019 due to the upcoming World cup in May 2019, Mumbai should rope in a couple of quality seamers if they are to pose any sort of title challenge in 2019.
#1 Harbhajan Singh - Chennai Super Kings
Harbhajan Singh has been a member of many title-winning campaigns in the IPL. The ‘Sardar from Jalandhar’ has been a marquee player in the IPL during the past years. Harbhajan was not retained by the Mumbai Indians last year and plied his trade for the eventual champions Chennai Superkings. However, even during last year, Harbhajan did not play all of the games and was under bowled by the captain M.S Dhoni.
Harbhajan is now in the twilight of his cricket career and is likely to announce his retirement from the game in some time and has taken up the commentary role with a leading media house. With age not on his side and tough competition in the squad in the form of Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja, and Karn Sharma, it seems highly unlikely that the Chennai side would continue with Harbhajan during IPL 2019. The defending champions should instead try to bring in an overseas fast bowler as a back up to Lungi Ngidi.