SMITH, MAXWELL, FINCH & SEVERAL BIG NAMES SET TO GO UNDER THE HAMMER IN FEBRUARY
The 20th of January, 2021 was always going to be a very interesting day in the buildup to IPL 2021 with several teams needing an overhaul, while some merely needed tinkering to their already settled squad ahead of a mini-auction slated for the 18th of February between the India vs England Test Matches. There were bound to be a few surprises, big name releases, a few retiring faces and also clutch retentions but I’m not sure we were quite expecting the mass releases that we saw from a couple of teams including Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, especially after they had their best campaign since 2016 in 2020.
Before we dive in a bit deeper, let’s take a look at how each team’s thinktank went about approaching the IPL Retention day and who the big spenders could be when the hammer is set to go down at the auction.
A clean up of squads meant that a total of 27 International stars and 28 Indian players were released by the franchises in addition to 3 confirmed trades of Daniel Sams and Harshal Patel from the Delhi Capitals to RCB and Robin Uthappa who heads across from Rajasthan Royals to MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings.
We were always expecting a few big changes from an ageing side like Chennai Super Kings, the underperforming Kings XI Punjab and last season’s wooden spoon winner, the Rajasthan Royals, but it was Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore that threw us the biggest curveball releasing a total of 10 players (the most by any team) ahead of the mini auction on the 18th of February, 2021. Parthiv Patel’s retirement and Dale Steyn’s announcement to sit the season out helped the cause, Aaron Finch’s poor form in the UAE made it pretty easy to release 4.40cr and the release of Moeen Ali was understandable given the rise of Washington Sundar, but no one perhaps saw (and completely understands) the release of Chris Morris, Shivam Dube and 4 others after RCB had their most successful campaign since 2016, with the rise in form evident after Chris Morris entered the squad post injury. Mike Hesson & Simon Katich have added of Daniel Sams from the Delhi Capitals as a like-for-like replacement but surely one eye will be on buying the big South African all-rounder back if he comes in under his previously hefty price tag of 10cr.
The other BIG announcement was the release & sacking of Steve Smith as Captain of Rajasthan Royals with the baby-faced Sanju Samson given the opportunity to lead an IPL side for the first time. The Royals haven’t tasted much success after the inaugural IPL season way back in 2008 and they’ll be hoping that Samson has the midas touch to move them away from the bottom half of the table, with Kumar Sangakkara joining the squad as Director of Cricket Operations too.
RCB released a whopping 10 players and all eyes were on MS Dhoni’s CSK who were perhaps expected to clean the rubble too but instead chose to keep the faith in their core that has taken them to every playoff barring the last season and only released 6 players, including the retirement of Shane Watson. Chennai man M Vijay & Kedhar Jadhav’s time ran out and Piyush Chawla & Harbhajan Singh too were released meaning Chennai could be in search of some young blood or hard-hitting middle-order batsmen, and our experts think K Gowtham (released by Kings XI Punjab) could be in the fray, given the roles he fits. Are these 6 changes enough of a revamp??? Only time will tell…but one thing’s for certain, MS Dhoni is still at the helm!
View this post on Instagram
GLENN MAXWELL’S ROPE HAS FINALLY BEEN SNIPPED! It took a while but after a (another) disastrous campaign in 2020, Anil Kumble & KL Rahul have finally decided to look elsewhere and in the process of adding 8 others including sergeant Cottrell, are left with a whopping Rs. 53.20cr to spend at the auction, the most of any side. Now whether they spend the amount or not is a different matter, but KXIP desperately need to find the men that could give them a shot at that elusive title.
View this post on Instagram
There were no major clean-up acts for two time Champions Kolkata Knight Riders who have stuck with the majority of their squad and kept the faith in Eoin Morgan and Dinesh Karthik in the hope that 2020 was a blip for a squad that, on-paper should have been in contention for the title. No major surprises either for the ever-consistent Sunrisers Hyderabad who will just want David Warner’s form to return when the IPL comes around and perhaps could have their eye on their former SRH star man, Shakib Al Hasan, who returns to the auction after serving out his ban. The Delhi Capital’s meanwhile did some tidying up after their best campaign in history last season, finishing runners up, and released 6 players including Jason Roy and wicket-keeper Alex Carey in addition to the two trades of Harshal Patel and Daniel Sams to RCB.
Finally, the defending Champions Mumbai Indians with over 15cr in the kitty now, could be eyeing one big burly fast bowler (think Kyle Jamieson or Mitchell Starc) given the trend we’ve seen, after releasing all their international fast bowling stocks, except Trent Boult. Lasith Malinga called time on his franchise cricket career, while there was no room for James Pattinson, Mitchell McClenaghan or Nathan Coulter-Nile. Rohit Sharma might have his eye on some young untapped talent too but given their liking for fast bowlers that hit it a long way, like Coulter-Nile or Ben Cutting before him, we think that Kyle Jamieson could be a front runner to don blue and gold, except that man perhaps could have the most suitors of all come the 18th of Feb.
View this post on Instagram
It may not be the big auction that could see two new teams and several other changes in 2022, but the 18th of Feb is set to be a telling date as teams piece together their puzzles in the hope of being crowned champions of the biggest T20 league in the world!
[Image Credit: IPL – Indian Premier League]