The Indian Premiere League (IPL) auctions 2018 will perhaps be the biggest one the tournament has seen in a long time. In fact, only the inaugural auction back in 2008 had generated this much curiosity and anticipation in the fans, media and the players alike.
The two-day event is to be held in Bangalore on the 27th and 28th of January and will see a total of a whopping 578 players, including 16 Marquee players, going under the hammer for the eight franchises. Among the list of players, there are 244 capped players (62 from India), 332 uncapped players (34 from overseas), and two players from Associate countries.
It will be interesting to see how things unwrap in the auction. Only a handful of players have been retained by the eight franchises and for the first time in a long time, players like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Ben Stokes, Gautam Gambhir, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, and Harbhajan Singh, will be back under the hammer. The media, public and player interest in this auction would hence be immense.
Another exciting feature of this auction is that almost all the teams will be going in with a clean slate. The chance for rebuilding a completely new unit with fresh faces will add a different edge to the auction as it will be fascinating to observe how the various teams shape up after the end of the two-day event.
Perhaps the most talked about teams in the 2018 IPL auction would be Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR). Returning to the league after serving their two-year bans, both Chennai and Rajasthan would be the centre of all eyes as the two franchises command a great fan following and have been champions in the past. While Chennai has retained MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, and Ravindra Jadeja, Rajasthan has only retained Steve Smith. So it will be intriguing to see how both these franchises go about their business in the upcoming auction.
This time around, uncapped Indian players will also be in much demand. In fact, with time the franchises have become very prudent in acquiring players in the auction and these days they tend to go more for local payers who will provide better results at minimal costs rather than spending a large sum on a single player with a big name. With a plethora of uncapped Indian players in the list, expect a bidding war for names like Krunal Pandya (Base Price 40 lakh), Indian U-19 captain, Prithvi Shaw (Base Price 20 lakh), Basil Thampi (Base Price 30 lakh), Nitish Rana (Base Price 20 lakh), Mayank Agarwal (Base Price 20 lakh), Rahul Tripathi (Base Price 20 lakh), and Rajneesh Gurbani (Base Price 20 lakh).
The overseas players have always dominated the IPL auctions and things will not be much different this time either. Flourishing T20 leagues all over the world have produced a lot of new and exciting talents and along with the known heavyweights, the tug-of-war for the overseas players in the forthcoming auction is likely to be immense. Players like Chris Lynn, Ben Stokes, Colin Munro, Kagiso Rabada, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga, Brendon McCullum, Rashid Khan, Evin Lewis and Dwayne Bravo, are likely to be the ones that would cause a stir this auction.
There is no denying that the IPL auction of 2018 will generate enormous interest. It is after a long time that a tinge of freshness and zing has been added to this usually monotonous affair. And cricket enthusiasts would relish this opportunity. After all, this may well serve as the perfect appetizer for the main event that commences in April.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)