The IPL, which had to take an abrupt pause is back in our lives with much fanfare. The second leg has commenced in fantastic fashion. A nail-bitter was witnessed when CSK took on MI while the RCB-KKR game was a one-sided affair. KKR displayed its all-around depth with incredible aplomb. The spectators are happy to be getting their daily dose of entertainment every evening whereas broadcasters, advertisers, and the Board are happy to get over the financial distress that the Covid scare had caused.
The BCCI had, a couple of weeks back, in its AGM formally announced the introduction of two new teams in the current eight-team league. Post that, the bids for the franchises were invited and it is to be seen who the two new owners would be. There have been talks of basing these teams in the northern and central belt of India where there is huge traction but minimum representation. A city like Lucknow could potentially get a team. With the opening of the grand Narendra Modi stadium, Ahmedabad could also become a center.
One thing in IPL that excites fans other than the matches themselves is the grand auctions. People tune in to see which player is sold to which team. next year we shall witness the mega-auctions where all teams would have to build their teams from scratch. They will have the option to retain a maximum of 3 players each.
We look at 5 players that the franchises can target to give captaincy responsibility in auctions.
1. Shreyas Iyer
Shreyas Iyer masterfully led Delhi Capitals last season and that was the first time they made it to the finals of an IPL season. However, as luck would have it he got injured before IPL 2021, and Pant was handed the captaincy with whom the franchise has decided to continue. Looking at this and the fact that KKR had captaincy drama between Karthik and Morgan last season, KKR can target Iyer to start afresh. Iyer is young and dynamic with proven leadership traits.
2. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Kumar is a legend in the limited-overs format. He has aced the death bowling trick and has become so accurate with his yorkers that it is impossible to hit him. He has led SRH in the absence of Warner and Williamson in the middle. He also holds the record of winning the purple cap twice. Considering the high chances of a franchise in Lucknow, Kumar can be selected as a player to captain the Lucknow franchise. He would have the local connection and will be a fan favorite.
3. Kane Williamson
Often overshadowed by the presence of Warner in IPL and the other members of the Fab 4 in world cricket, Williamson has slowly but quietly made a huge name for himself. He is a tactical genius. His game is suited for all formats as has been seen in the IPL when he piled up more than 700 runs in the 2018 season. In the absence of Warner, he also led SRH to the finals. With Dhoni most likely retiring from CSK next season, they could bring Williamson as a captain in their franchise. Alternatively, SRH could choose to retain him as a full-time captain due to the falling stocks Warner.
4. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya is an integral part of Mumbai Indians and there is no doubt about that. However, there is a possibility that he may not get retained by MI. Pandya would be one of the most sought-after talents in the next auctions due to his all-around abilities. He can be picked up by the Ahmedabad franchise as a captain. He would add a local flavor to the team considering he is a Gujarati and from that state.
5. Ravichandran Ashwin
The Rajasthan Royals went for a good gamble this season to make Samson the captain. The season is not over yet but Samson’s captaincy will be viewed very closely. If RR fails to make an impact, the team would be looking for an overhaul. They may look to pick Ashwin as a captaincy prospect. Ashwin has a great cricketing mind and reads the game better than most. He is also underutilized in Delhi currently and would make a good fit in Rajasthan.