IPL 2020 auction: Six players who could spark a fierce bidding war

Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell celebrate AFP

The IPL 2020 mini auction will have a maximum of 73 spots up for grabs. Historically, small auctions have favoured players, big and unknown, making them millionaires in a matter of minutes owing to the high demand. Pawan Negi (2016), Varun Chakravarthy (2019), Ben Stokes (2017), Tymal Mills (2017) and Ravindra Jadeja (2012) are good examples of that trend in the past. In this auction, the focus will most likely be on overseas fast bowlers, allrounders and Indian middle-order batsmen.

Here are some of the players ESPNcricinfo predicts could attract a fierce bidding war.

Glenn Maxwell

The last time the Australia allrounder was part of small auction - in 2013 - Mumbai Indians bought him for USD 1 million. He's not lived up to his name in the tournament, with just 1397 runs at 22.90 in 69 matches, but current form is what franchises pay attention to.

Maxwell, who has returned after taking a break due to mental-health reasons, might go for big bucks this time too. Since the beginning of this year, he has 635 runs in 22 innings at an average of 33.42 in ODIs and scores of 56, 113* and 62 in the three T20Is he's batted in.

Apart from Mumbai, Maxwell has also been part of Delhi Capitals (as well as Daredevils) and Kings XI Punjab. While one of his original owners might want him back, three other franchises - Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore (all three have new head coaches) - are also likely to contest hard for Maxwell.

Who would fancy him: While the Knight Riders could think of playing Maxwell as an opener, Royal Challengers and Sunrisers could utilise him as the designated finisher as both teams have been heavily reliant on their top three.

ALSO READ: IPL 2020 auction: How the squads stand and what they need

Pat Cummins

The demand for overseas quicks in this auction, as various franchise officials predict, is going to very high. Barring Knight Riders and Mumbai, the other six franchises are looking for an experienced overseas quick or death bowler. With Mitchell Starc opting out of the auction, Cummins, the No.1 Test bowler, is primed to be in high demand.

In addition to extreme pace, Cummins offers control, has variations, and can bowl in any phase. In the 2017 IPL, he was the leading wicket-taker for the Daredevils (now Capitals) with 15 wickets. Overall, Cummins' T20 economy rate is 7.72 while his IPL economy rate is 8.29. Cummins has already scored a point over his rivals by listing as an allrounder, which is the second set of players in the auctions order that will come up on Thursday.

Who would fancy him: Expect Kings XI and Royal Challengers to keenly contest for the Australian quick.

Sheldon Cottrell

Cottrell has already earned a lot of fans with his signature salutesend-off. Both at the World Cup this summer, and in the ongoing limited-overs series in India, Cottrell has proved he has the pace, variations and attitude to put pressure on the top order. The West Indies left-arm fast bowler has an economy rate of 7.46 over 83 T20 matches. What could help the Jamaican is the fact that there are not too many noteworthy names who ply his trade - left-arm pace - in the auction. In the 2017 auction, Tymal Mills came into a similar situation and picked up INR 12 crores from Royal Challengers, although he did not deliver as expected.

Who would fancy him: Barring Mumbai and the Knight Riders, the rest of the teams need a left-arm fast bowler so expect several teams to line up for Cottrell.

Alex Carey

The Australia wicketkeeper would be a valuable buy for any team. How many players can open the innings or play as a finisher, and play spin very well and keep wickets? Carey ticks all those boxes. He impressed during the ODI series in India in 2018 and then excelled at the World Cup. Carey's flexible role makes him a hugely attractive option because he provides balance, which franchises are always after. And if he proves a success, then he becomes an automatic bet for retention ahead of the 2021 mega auction. Carey also comes in during the first hour of the auction so expect more than one team to aggressively bid for him.

Who would fancy him: Royal Challengers, Rajasthan Royals and the Capitals will be the frontrunners.

Chris Morris

Morris was the first player to be retained ahead of the 2018 auction by the Delhi franchise but was released ahead of the auction this year. Injury concerns and his dwindling contributions with the bat did not help the South African's cause. However, Morris' strengths are his death-bowling skills and the ability to take wickets regularly. Morris has been in good form in T20s in 2019, taking 44 wickets at 24.86 and an economy rate of 8.42 in 36 games.

Who would fancy him: Super Kings are known to value experience and familiarity. Don't be surprised if they take back Morris, who played for them in 2013.

Jaydev Unadkat

Unadkat was the most expensive Indian player in the last two auctions. Will luck favour him again? Familiarity with Indian conditions is an automatic card in his favour. Plus he is a left-arm fast bowler, who has useful variations on slower pitches. If a couple of teams are looking for someone with those characteristics, then the Saurashtra captain can expect another big payday.

Who would fancy him: Pitches in Delhi and Chennai are on the slower side and the franchises based out of these cities need a left-arm pacer in their squad.