How franchises build their teams and choose their captains

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A full IPL auction provides unpredictability as franchises rebuild their respective teams almost from scratch.

A few days ago on a Kolkata Knight Riders YouTube show, franchise CEO and GM Venky Mysore recalled how their strategy went haywire during the full IPL auction of 2011. The Kolkata-based franchise wanted a slow burn, but its top targets, including Gautam Gambhir, went under the hammer early on, forcing KKR to spend two-thirds of its sack in the first hour of an auction of two days.

For a franchise like Chennai Super Kings, as its managing director Kasi Viswanathan said in this article, retaining a core group over the years has served them wonderfully well.

This time, however, as the 15th season of the IPL will have a mega auction in Bangalore on February 12-13, with two new teams, the fight is expected to be very intense. Big hitters will be bought for big money. But how franchises build their teams and choose their captains would provide more intrigue.

captains corner

(Base price; David Warner Rs 2 crore, Shreyas Iyer Rs 2 crore, Eoin Morgan Rs 1.5 crore, Manish Pandey Rs 1 crore)

(Clockwise from left): David Warner, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Eoin Morgan.

There are two sets of franchises in the IPL. A cricket franchise like CSK run by seasoned cricket administrators has built its team around MS Dhoni. Mumbai Indians also have their skipper Rohit Sharma running the show and that has also been KKR’s preferred policy, under Gautam Gambhir and Morgan. KKR’s resurrection last season was orchestrated by Morgan, although he had a lean spell as a batsman. Likewise, Warner had contributed immensely to Sunrisers Hyderabad’s consistency in the tournament before being benched after some low scoring. Then there’s another set of franchises that ostensibly pick their captains based on the brand value of the players, handing the tactical responsibility to the coaching staff. The two new franchises, Lucknow Super Giants and Team Ahmedabad, seem to have fallen for the latter by appointing KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya respectively as their captains.

At least a few captain spots are up for grabs, at KKR and RCB. Morgan, Warner, Shreyas and Pandey could be in the running.

spin punch

(Base price; Yuzvendra Chahal Rs 2 crore, Krunal Pandya Rs 1 crore, Washington Sundar Rs 1.5 crore Kuldeep Yadav Rs 1 crore, Rahul Chahar Rs 75 lakh)

(Clockwise from left): Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav.

Yuzvendra Chahal’s RCB franchise, which released him, should go all out for the leg spinner. For his Indian team partner Kuldeep Yadav, back in shape after going under the surgeon’s knife, the three ODIs against the West Indies before the auction could be very important.

Also beware of Washington Sundar with his versatile skills. The national coaches quickly brought him back into the ODI and T20I configuration, replacing Ashwin, as soon as he was fit.

expensive stars

(Base price; Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Pat Cummins, Quinton de Kock, Shikhar Dhawan, Faf du Plessis, Shreyas Iyer, Kagiso Rabada, Mohammed Shami, David Warner, Ishan Kishan and Devdutt Padikkal Rs 2 crore)

(Clockwise from left): Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Mohammed Shami, Quinton de Kock.

The bidding pool is full of superstars. The IPL released the auction list of 590 players on Tuesday and the top 10 names were; Ashwin, Boult, Cummins, de Kock, Dhawan, du Plessis, Shreyas, Rabada, Shami and Warner.

Ashwin can be a match winner even in the shortest format on Indian grounds.

At the IPL 2020 auction, KKR had bought Cummins for Rs 15.5 crore. Last year the fast bowler did not return for the second phase but his promotion to Australian Test captain has further boosted his stock.

Likewise, de Kock would be a valuable asset regardless of which team buys him. Every franchise covets an explosive opener like him who is also a wicketkeeper.

Being a proven performer and a regular Indian side in the overshot cricket, Shreyas would be a hot property at auction. As for du Plessis, we learn that the CSK wants to bring him back to the fold.

Padikkal also remains firmly in the RCB scheme of things despite being released.

As for Shami, he is fast bowling royalty and the Punjab Kings probably missed a trick in releasing him.

surprise package

(Base price; Shahrukh Khan Rs 40 lakh, Yash Dhull Rs 20 lakh)

India’s 2018 U-19 World Cup squad had the brilliance of Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, all potential future stars. KKR had acted quickly, bringing in Gill, Mavi and Nagarkoti for Rs 1.8 crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 3.2 crore respectively. Delhi bought Shaw for Rs 1.2 crore. The current India U-19 team thrives more on collective performances in the ongoing U-19 World Cup. Still, each franchise is keeping tabs on its performance and some of the foals may make a splash at auction. Dhull should be one of them.

Each auction holds a few surprises. In 2019, the Rajasthan Royals paid Rs 2.4 crore for Yashasvi Jaiswal. This time, Shahrukh might be in demand, having dramatically improved his reputation as a finisher in limited domestic cricket.

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(Base price; Bhuvneshwar Kumar Rs 2 crore, Suresh Raina Rs 2 crore, Ajinkya Rahane Rs 1 crore, Cheteshwar Pujara Rs 50 lakh, Sreesanth Rs 50 lakh)

(Clockwise from left): Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina.

When CSK finally signed Pujara at last year’s auction, everyone cheered. It was the Chennai-based franchise honoring a mainstay following India’s Test Series victory in Australia. This time, however, Pujara and Rahane’s entry into the auction raised some eyebrows. Arguably, County Relays would serve them better at a time when they are on the verge of losing their test points.

You have to see how the bidding goes for Kumar and Raina, both at the end of their illustrious careers.
Sreesanth auction is an interesting development.

IPL also worked

As England were hammered at the Ashes, some former Blighty players were targeting the IPL for their Test squad downfall, as if Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed, for example, had ruined their technique playing in the Indian league T20. When Joe Root and Ben Stokes subsequently decided not to enter the auction, a franchise CEO told this newspaper, “It makes no difference. A total of 24 England players have signed up for this year’s auction and arguably the two most coveted England cricketers in this format, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali, have been shortlisted by Rajasthan Royals and CSK respectively.

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