The IPL 2021 auction is set to take place on February 18. This will not be a mega auction, which means franchises will largely look to plug gaps, some larger than others. In this, the first of a two-part preview, we look at the requirements for the Chennai Super Kings, the Delhi Capitals, the Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chennai Super Kings
The return of Suresh Raina restores some balance, and possibly confidence too.
The Super Kings struggled in IPL 2020 with a seventh-place finish, their lowest in the tournament's history. They have just one overseas slot left: they are likely to look for a power-hitting batsman, who can not only replace the now-retired Shane Watson, but also double up as a bowler. The two names at the top of their wishlist are likely to be Glenn Maxwell and Moeen Ali, who fulfil the power-hitting criteria and add the fingerspin element that the Super Kings sorely missed last year without Harbhajan Singh. They might also consider getting someone who can become a contender for the captaincy in the near future when MS Dhoni decides to call it a day, which brings someone like Steven Smith into contention.
Current first XI: 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Imran Tahir.
Key gaps: Top-order overseas batsman/batting allrounder
Potential picks: Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Moeen Ali, Jason Roy, Marnus Labuschagne
Fingerspinners: K Gowtham, Jalaj Saxena
Having made their maiden IPL final in 2020, the Delhi Capitals wouldn't want to tinker too much with their combination. But they still need a couple of back-up options for the first XI. Overall, they have eight vacancies, including three overseas slots. But with a purse of only INR 13.4 crore, their will try to find the best fits for key roles.
The Capitals need a cover for Rishabh Pant and possibly a back-up for Marcus Stoinis as an overseas allrounder. They might also want an overseas fast bowler, having traded left-arm seamer Daniel Sams to the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Current first XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Marcus Stoinis, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Ishant Sharma.
Key gaps: Batting allrounder (back-up for Marcus Stoinis)
Potential picks: Chris Morris, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Christian, Shivam Dube
Back up left-arm pacer and wicketkeeper: Jason Behrendoff, Joel Paris, David Willey, Sheldon Cottrell, Sam Billings, Glenn Philips
Kings XI Punjab
With a purse of INR 53.20 crore, Kings XI Punjab might have a very good time of it, targeting all the players they want and going hard for them.
Coached by Anil Kumble, the Kings XI were a tad unlucky not to at least make the playoffs in IPL 2020. Their Indian batting core is one of the strongest in the competition. But the Kings XI will look for overseas batting and bowling allrounders to ensure proper balance. Will they buy back Maxwell, who was the second-most expensive buy in the 2020 auction at INR 10.75 crore (US$ 1.514 million approx.)? Having released both K Gowtham and Mujeeb ur Rahman, they also need a quality fingerspinner, a job even Maxwell did for a few matches last season while opening the bowling. Will Kumble be tempted to rope in his former India teammate Harbhajan Singh, who despite being 40 has won multiple IPLs at the Mumbai Indians and the Super Kings? A specialist overseas fast bowler is another position the Kings XI will be on the lookout for.
Current first XI: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Ravi Bishnoi, 11 Arshdeep Singh.
Key gaps: Batting and bowling allrounders
Potential picks: Moeen Ali, Shakib Al Hasan, Tom Curran, Fabian Allen, Dan Christian
Fast bowlers: Jhye Richardson, Kyle Jamieson, Umesh Yadav, Naveen ul Haq
Fingerspinners: Harbhajan Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Khrievetso Kense
Kolkata Knight Riders
Since the start of the 2020 IPL, the Kolkata Knight Riders have changed their coaching staff and their captain, and, recently, even hired a prominent analyst to help them strategise better in their quest to win a third title, with their last triumph having come in 2014. Andre Russell's fitness, along with Sunil Narine's failure as an opener, hurt the Knight Riders in IPL 2020. Finding capable allrounders who can serve as back-ups for the Caribbean pair is likely to be their priority this auction.
Current first XI: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Rahul Tripathi, 3 Nitish Rana, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Sunil Narine, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Kamlesh Nagarkoti, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Prasidh Krishna
Key gaps: Back-ups for Russell and Narine
Potential picks: Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Morris, Daniel Christian, Ravi Bopara
An Indian middle-order batsman: Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Himmat Singh, Shahrukh Khan
Gaurav Sundararaman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo