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February 22, 2012
The Pune Warriors may have missed out on the 2012 IPL player auction, but as part of their agreement with the BCCI, they now have a $3.4 million war chest they can use to bolster their squad. The Sahara brains trust, which includes its "mentor captain" Sourav Ganguly, is reportedly meeting on Wednesday to decide on a list of players that Pune must target.
ESPNcricinfo looks at five players who have a very good chance of being on Pune's radar as well as in the line of sight of Mumbai Indians, who are seeking a replacement for Andrew Symonds.
A week ago Richard Levi would probably not have made this list. What a difference 20 overs makes. The international spotlight fell well and truly on Levi following his record-breaking 117 in the second Twenty20 against New Zealand in Hamilton. The IPL has already come calling too. Levi's agent Arthur Turner told ESPNcricinfo that, "Franchises are interested in his services and offers have been made." If his 45-ball hundred is any indication of his potential, Levi could well have an outsized impact on the tournament.
Ryan ten Doeschate is the only player from an Associate country to have played in the IPL. Kevin O'Brien could well be the second. The Ireland allrounder's majestic century against England in the 2011 World Cup will live long in the memories of those who had the privilege of watching it. He doesn't have a particularly great record in Twenty20, averaging 18.58. But he has made a hundred and with a strike rate of 139.46 plus the ability to bowl medium-pace, he could be a useful addition.
Jacob Oram might be injured, but when he is on the field, he is one of the better allrounders in T20 cricket. He will be available for the entire seven weeks of the tournament, and having played for Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in the past, knows how to operate in Indian conditions. In the 2011 World Cup, he took 12 wickets at an average of 18.41. His standout performance came in New Zealand's upset victory over South Africa in the quarter-finals. In that game, he took 4 for 39 and pulled off a stunning catch to dismiss Jacques Kallis to earn the Man-of-the-Match award.
No England players were bought in the 2012 player auction but Ravi Bopara could be worth a second look. Bopara has impressed in the one-day series against Pakistan, scoring two half-centuries in three games and averaging 54. He can also turn his arm over and though he won't be available for the entire tournament, a month of Bopara could prove a worthwhile investment for Pune.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe has been quietly going about his business in limited-overs cricket, and is currently ranked No. 2 by the ICC in ODIs. The left-arm fast bowler has never played in the IPL, and went unsold in the auction, but his career T20 numbers are impressive. He has taken 36 wickets from 35 games at an average of 21.80 and gives away only 6.46 runs an over. His numbers in T20 internationals are even better. In nine games, he has taken 10 wickets at an average of 19.50 and has an economy rate of 6.09. South Africa also have no conflicting international commitments, so Tsotsobe could well join his South Africa team-mate Wayne Parnell in Pune's squad.
Edited by Siddarth Ravindran
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Tariq Engineer
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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