Availability of players, and not the venue, will be the key factor ahead of the forthcoming IPL auction, scheduled on December 18. That is is the opinion of Parth Jindal, co-owner of the Daredevils franchise which was renamed Delhi Capitals on Tuesday.
IPL 2019 is likely to be advanced, keeping in mind that most international players will have to attend preparatory camps for the World Cup, which starts in England on May 30. The IPL had already informed franchises earlier this year that both CA and ECB would be restricting the participation of those in their World Cup squads till May 1 only. Moreover, the venue for IPL 2019 is still undecided, with the tournament being held at the same time as the general elections in India.
Jindal confirmed that English and Australian players in particular, were likely to be less desirable at least for Delhi at the auction. "We'll plan to target players more based on availability," Jindal said. "Where the IPL is held is obviously relevant, but having players who are available throughout the season is very important. We know that the English players will leave after May 1, as will the Australians. Barring those two countries, as of now we are given to understand that most of the other countries' players will be available."
Jindal also said that franchises were yet to get clarity on the availability of marquee Indian players, especially the fast bowlers, following media reports that Indian captain Virat Kohli had told the BCCI that the workload of certain key players should be managed in the IPL to keep them fresh for the World Cup. The BCCI is likely to bring the IPL start date forward to March 23 as a part-solution to this, which would also help Indian players get a two-week break before they start their World Cup campaign. "There is talk that Virat Kohli wants some of the Indian fast bowlers to be rested," Jindal said. "Luckily we don't have anyone in our team who is in the Indian ODI squad. But as much of an unknown it is to us, it's the same for the other seven teams. So everyone will go into the auction on an even playing field."
The IPL 2019 auction will be held in Jaipur on December 18, and Delhi will have a purse of INR 25.50 crore, second only to Kings XI Punjab's INR 36.20 crore. Jindal, who took charge of the franchise when JSW bought a 50% stake in the franchise in March 2018, said that since Delhi had deep pockets, they just needed to invest wisely.
Jindal was also optimistic about bringing back Shikhar Dhawan, who was traded in from Sunrisers Hyderabad in exchange for Shahbaz Nadeem, Vijay Shankar and Abhishek Sharma. "I'm still wondering why Hyderabad released him. He was Man of the Series in Australia too," Jindal said, adding that having the best set of frontline Indian batsmen gave him confidence Delhi could reach the play-offs next season. "We are banking on our Indian players. Our core is Indian. If you look at our top four of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, it's very strong. You look at any IPL team, none of them have four Indian players who are so dynamic at the top of the order."
Dhawan had played for Delhi in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008, and will be returning for the first time since then. "I can't tell you how happy I am to play for Delhi again," he said in a video message at the team's renaming event. "I'm coming back after 11 years, and we are going to play with a lot of passion."
Without divulging the auction strategy, Jindal said Delhi wanted to strengthen their bowling reserves. "We need bowling - Indian and foreign. We need allrounders, though we have Chris Morris, we need one more. And we have a big purse for the auction, so we'll spend from that."