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All you need to know about the 2020 IPL auction

Answers to all the questions you might have about Thursday's big event

Nagraj Gollapudi
At what time does the auction begin on Thursday?
1530 IST (1000 GMT). For the first time, the auction will take place in Kolkata.
What are the key things to know about this auction?
There are 73 vacant slots available for all eight franchises to fill, with a maximum squad strength of 25 players per side. Out of this, there can be 29 overseas players at most. The total auction pool comprises 338 players, with six new players - Vinay Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Mathew Wade ,Jake Weatherald, Robin Bist and Sanjay Yadav - added to the original 332. Of them, 134 are capped players (including 13 Indians) and 198 uncapped.
Who are the big names in the auction and who are the dark horses?
Some of the biggest names to go under the hammer on Thursday are Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Chris Lynn, Eoin Morgan, Chris Morris, Shimron Hetmyer, and, among Indian names, Robin Uthappa and Jaydev Unadkat.
Among the dark horses could be Mumbai's Yashasvi Jaiswal, who will turn 18 next week. He recently became the youngest player ever to smash a List A double-century, in India's domestic 50-over competition. He is also part of India's Under-19 squad for the upcoming World Cup next month in South Africa. Uttar Pradesh's Priyam Garg, who will lead India in that World Cup, has also been on the franchises' radar. Known for his fluid strokeplay and his ability to dominate bowling attacks, Garg could also fetch a decent amount of money.
Opener Tom Banton, who has played only 21 T20s so far including three for England, could also bag a good deal. He hammered 549 runs in the Vitality Blast this summer, at a strike rate of 161.50, and being an overseas opener could be on the wishlist of a few franchises.
Will players be auctioned randomly or as per some categories?
The players are divided into different sets based on their specialisation. As per the order, decided by the IPL, the first set will be of specialist batsmen, followed by allrounders, wicketkeeper-batsmen, fast bowlers and lastly spinners. The auction will begin with capped players followed by the uncapped ones.
Will all the players' names be announced at the auction?
No. The IPL has decided on a list of 85 players to begin with, which is a mix of top players from different categories, based on who the franchises were keen on. The accelerated auction process will commence after those 85 names are exhausted. From the rest of the list, franchises will be asked to pick names they would want called at the auction. Once those names are exhausted, the unsold players at the first time of calling will be brought back, based on the names provided by the franchises. There, the IPL has the discretion to repeat the exercise if need be.
What is the purse available for the franchises?
Another INR 3 cr (USD 422,000 approx) has been added to the franchises' balance purse from the 2019 auction. Once again, Kings XI Punjab, who had the biggest purse in the last auction, will have the most money available at the auction table, of INR 42.70 cr (USD 6,000,000 approx) while Mumbai Indians have the slimmest purse of INR 13.05 cr (USD 1,830,000 approx). Royal Challengers Bangalore have the most slots to fill (12) even though they have a purse of just INR 27.90 cr (USD 3,900,000 approx). Virat Kohli's team also needs the most overseas players with half a dozen slots to be filled.
Who are the youngest and oldest players in the auction pool?
Only 14 years old, Afghanistan's Noor Ahmad is the youngest player in the auction. Ahmad is a left-arm wristspinner with a skiddy action and has played seven T20s and one first-class match already. He has listed his base price at INR 30 lakhs. At the other end of the spectrum is former Rajasthan Royals legspinner Pravin Tambe. At 48, Tambe is probably the oldest player ever to have been part of an IPL auction. Tambe, who has put his reserve price at INR 20 lakhs, was incidentally not part of the original longlist, but was later added to the group of 24 players that were added to the final auction pool at the request of the franchises.
Availability of players was a key factor at the last auction because of the ODI World Cup. Will it once again be crucial?
Not this time. Last time around, international teams were busy preparing for the World Cup, which immediately followed the IPL, limiting the availability of many overseas players. This time around almost all countries have allowed their players to be fully available.
These are the availability windows for each country: Australia (available from March 30), Bangladesh (players available until May 1, after which they leave for a tour of Ireland), England (April 1 to May 26), New Zealand (from March 31), West Indies and Afghanistan (full availability). South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe are yet to confirm their availability periods.
Who will the auctioneer be?
Hugh Edmeades, who conducted the auction last year.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo