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January 18, 2010
Tuesday's auction has 66 players vying for a dozen IPL spots. Here is Cricinfo's list of the cricketers whose form, reputation or potential - or star appeal - makes them the most sought-after by the franchises.
He was part of the disaster that was the Deccan Chargers' first season, missed the triumphant second season and in between was involved in a verbal spat with VVS Laxman, the franchise's first captain. That, though, shouldn't prevent him from being among the most in-demand players on Tuesday - not after his Man-of-the-Match performances in the semi-final and final of last year's World Twenty20 that showcased a maturity to go with his manic hitting and potent legspin.
An electric 18-ball 54 for Trinidad & Tobago against New South Wales in the Champions League last year catapulted him to Twenty20 stardom. Throw in the steady medium-pace, acrobatic fielding and the made-for-IPL love of bling and there should be a hefty contract in hand come Tuesday. That will only follow the lead set by South Australia and Somerset, both of whom secured his Twenty20 services in the past three months.
After a couple of seasons with the ICL, he is back in the mainstream and has shown he remains as dangerous as ever. He can still crank up the pace, the yorkers continue to seek out batsmen's toes, and he can fall back on bouncers and slower deliveries for variety. His retirement from Tests also means that he will only be missing a few days of the IPL, unlike his compatriots, who will out for around three weeks.
His ability to deliver yorkers on demand and his supreme control over reverse-swing make him perhaps the world's finest Twenty20 bowler - and he comes minus the baggage of controversy or disciplinary problems. Like his national team-mates, he will be available for the entire season. Not yet convinced? His career Twenty20 stats read: 46 matches, 78 wickets, economy-rate 6.44, average 13.82, strike-rate 12.8, six four-wicket hauls. The case rests.
His ice-in-the-veins opening over during the final of the 2009 World Twenty20 - dismissing Man-of-the-Tournament Tillakaratne Dilshan for a five-ball duck after bombarding him with short deliveries - showed off this 17-year-old's unflappable temperament. Add to that the raw pace (capable of touching 150kmph), a sharp bouncer and promising lower-order batting. What's not to like?
The dark horse. Fearless and inventive are the two most common adjectives to describe his strokeplay but he isn't all power-hitting - he has a bewildering array of sweeps and reverse-sweeps that spring from the teenage years spent playing the traditional Irish sport of hurling, making it hard to stop him scoring. He has galvanised the England middle-order with his combination of muscle and finesse, and grown into a brilliant finisher of innings. Message to IPL franchises: watch his 34-ball 67 in the ICC Champions Trophy and 45-ball 85 in a Twenty20 against South Africa two months ago.
Just six months into his international career, he is already being spoken of as the future of Pakistani batting. On his Test debut in the unfamiliar conditions of New Zealand, he showed the versatility of his batting: blasting an all-guns-blazing 129 after a top-order failure in the first innings, before a composed 75 in the second nearly pulled off a stiff chase. An aggressive batsman by nature, the Twenty20 format will be to his liking.
Shakib Al Hasan
Eyebrows were raised when he didn't land a contract last season but, after a year of relentlessly collecting runs and wickets, he should feature in this edition of the IPL. His left-arm spin has improved tremendously over the years, and he is now the batting mainstay for his country. Plus, he is Bangladesh cricket's biggest star at the moment, which means signing up Shakib will provide his franchise access to a massive fanbase.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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