ESPNcricinfo-Mini-auctions always throw up randomness and unearth new stars. Ravindra Jadeja, Ben Stokes, Pawan Negi and Tymal Mills are some beneficiaries of these accelerated auctions. Two of them made an impact while the other two fizzled. What’s in store this year? ESPNcricinfo looks at players who are likely to demand a bidding war.
Mystery spinners are generally hard to find worldwide, and even more so in India. Look back and you can only think of KC Cariappa from the category, an expensive pick for Kolkata Knight Riders who failed to deliver.
Tamil Nadu’s Varun Chakravarthy is the next big emerging talent among mystery spinners. He has seven different variations and had a very good TNPL and Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the TNPL, he bowled 40 overs (240 balls), of which 125 balls were dots. His economy rate of 4.7 was the best among bowlers who had bowled at least 15 overs
He also made an impact in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, finishing as the top wicket-taker in the group stage, with 22 wickets in nine matches at an economy of 4.23. Historically, Indian spinners are expected to do much better than overseas spinners. Time will tell if it is worth it for a franchise to bet on an inexperienced, albeit rare talent. Varun has already been a nets bowler for Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, besides attending a trial with Mumbai Indians. It will not be a surprise if he goes for a big price, considering his skillset, and the fact that his name features early during the auction.
It always helps to play in a series in India in the lead-up to the auction. When West Indies toured India in October, Shimron Hetmyer attracted attention with his heavy-hitting. His ability to play spin and clear the boundary with ease makes him a very tempting option.
Hetmyer had finished the ODI series with 259 runs at an average of 51.80 at a strike rate of 140. Before the India tour, he also had a very good season in Caribbean Premier League, scoring 440 runs from 12 innings at 148.14. Hetmyer is available throughout the season and is in form. That’s a lot of boxes ticked in an IPL auction: Hetmyer is likely to attract a bidding war.
An important attribute that scouts and analysts look at is bowling speed. Although the numbers for bowlers who clock more than 140 kph aren’t remarkable, speed is a key skill that every team wants to have. Billy Stanlake started well last season while the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Joffra Archer have had their moments. With every franchise looking for such quicks, one cricketer who has improved his chances is Oshane Thomas. His pace and bounce troubled the Indian batsmen during the recently concluded ODI series. The 21-year-old has taken 26 wickets from 17 T20 matches at a strike rate of 14.3 and an economy rate of 8.27. With a possibility of the IPL being held in South Africa and many franchises, looking for overseas fast bowlers that are available, the odds for a bidding war look good.
Indian allrounders are so few in supply that they invariably go for a lot of money. We saw that with Krunal Pandya and Vijay Shankar earlier this year.
The latest domestic allrounder to make waves is Mumbai’s Shivam Dube. He came to the fore when he hit five sixes in an over against Pravin Tambe in a Mumbai T20 league game. Over the season, Dube has also shown that he is more than a slogger: he scored a quick 110 from 128 deliveries against Gujarat in the first innings and then followed it up with a patient 55 from 155 balls in the second to be Man of the Match in a game Mumbai lost. With the ball, his 7 for 53 against Karnataka caught a lot of attention. His ability to score quickly and bowl four overs in a T20 game makes him an asset.
Other players who could surprise: England allrounder Joe Denly, Mumbai seamer Tushar Deshpande, Baroda allrounder Atit Sheth, England batsman Jonny Bairstow, and New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Glenn Phillips.