The IPL auction: what you should know, and what you can expect
On Friday India announced their squad for the World T20. While the chairman of selectors has started to take questions to explain his panel's choices nowadays, the process is still not even half a patch on the grand spectacle of team selections: the IPL auction. A total of 351 players will be put up for sale. Teams will fight over the players in public, they will reject some because they have either valued themselves at a base price that is too high or they are not considered important enough. Only a maximum of 116 out of the 351 will be bought. A minimum of 28 must be picked up. Not more than 36 non-Indians can be bought.
There will be steals, there will be ridiculous amounts of money thrown around - at least seemingly - inexplicably, you won't be able to ask the franchises to make sense of it... but this, by the virtue of the sheer money involved, will draw the interest of many, not least those who will be playing cricket on the same day: New Zealand v Australia, South Africa v England, the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy, and the two T20 leagues in the Gulf.
Of big interest will be how the two new teams - Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants - and Delhi Daredevils, who have once again decided to overhaul their squad at the auction, go.
There are nine marquee players: Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Shane Watson, Kevin Pietersen, Yuvraj Singh, Dale Steyn, Aaron Finch, Martin Guptill and Dwayne Smith. Only five of them have set their base price at Rs 2 crore*. Steyn is happy to begin his auction at Rs 1.5 crore, Finch at Rs 1 crore, and Guptill and Smith want to see how high they can soar from the starting point of Rs 50 lakh. Seven players outside the marquee list have their base price at Rs 2 crore: Michael Hussey, Dhawal Kulkarni, Kane Richardson, Sanju Samson, Dinesh Karthik, Stuart Binny and Mitchell Marsh. The lowest base price is Rs 10 lakh.
How the teams stack up
This is how the IPL franchises are placed in terms of players retained and purse remaining going into the auction.
Players retained: 13; five foreigners Auction purse remaining: Rs 37.15 crore
Can buy a maximum 14 players including four non-Indians. Can make do with as few as three players. If Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami are both fit by the time the IPL starts, they already have a decent attack with Nathan Coulter-Nile, Amit Mishra, Imran Tahir and Shahbaz Nadeem also retained. It's the batsmen they will be after, to team up with Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy and Shreyas Iyer.
Players picked up at the draft: Five; three foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 27 crore
Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner and Dwayne Bravo can be the nucleus of a really strong T20 team, but they will need to build the rest of the squad in just Rs 27 crore. They can't be looking at more than two big-name signings, perhaps a batsman and a bowler each. Their acumen will come through in how they pick the less famous.
Kings XI Punjab
Players retained: 14; four foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 23 crore They have the big-hitting capabilities of Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Shaun Marsh, but they are in need of big-name bowlers to partner Axar Patel and Mitchell Johnson. Indian batsmen too will be on their agenda. They are likely to vie for Shane Watson and Dale Steyn. Not to mention they released George Bailey, which means they need a new captain.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Players retained: 15; six foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 17.95 crore
Ever since they spent big in 2010, Knight Riders have been a settled unit. Ten of the 11 players that played their last match remain in the squad. Their big loss is Jacques Kallis. They have one allrounder in Andre Russell, but they could go after Shane Watson in a big way if that's the only player they can buy. And they need just one more to constitute an IPL squad.
Players retained: 19; six foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 14.40 crore
The defending champions have retained the XI that won the final. Jasprit Bumrah, another retainee, didn't even play that final. They will be the kids at school who have finished their homework with the potential of disrupting others or putting their heads down and studying extra. They might want to look at a possible back-up for Lasith Malinga, whose fitness cannot always be relied upon.
Rising Pune Supergiants
Players picked up at the draft: Five; two foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 27 crore
Fast bowlers. Bowlers with long run-ups. Yet another MS Dhoni team will go to the selection table looking for fast bowlers. Dale Steyn and Mustafizur Rahman are some of the bigger names they might be interested in, but mostly they will be the ones looking for smart buys just like Lions.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Players retained: 14; five foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 21.62 crore
What Royal Challengers have: dazzling stroke-makers in AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli; the best white-ball quick in the world, Mitchell Starc; tearaways Adam Milne and Varun Aaron. What Royal Challengers don't have: A title, and a balanced squad. They have a decent amount left in their purse to go in for allrounders and bowlers, and we know money available with Royal Challengers makes for a fun auction. How far will they go for Yuvraj Singh?
Players retained: 15; five foreigners
Auction purse remaining: Rs 30.15 crore
They have always been short on Indian hitters; the money saved by letting Dale Steyn go could come in handy. They could even just go for a big hitter from outside India. Kevin Pietersen might be high on their list.
*INR 1 crore = INR 100 lakh = INR 10000000 = USD 148 thousand approx
INR 1 lakh = INR 100 thousand = INR 100000 = USD 1480 approx
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo