A surprisingly large total of 71 players were released by the 8 IPL franchises this past Friday ahead of the upcoming auction. RCB (12) and KKR (11) released the most players, whereas SRH (5) and CSK (6) chose to maintain the core of their respective squads.
So how did each side fare in the transfer window and what do they have to do at the auction table on 19th December to give themselves the best chance at IPL glory?
Kolkata Knight Riders
Major Releases: Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Piyush Chawla
Major Acquisitions: Siddhesh Lad (MI)
Remaining Purse: 36.65 Crores
Slots Remaining: 11 (4 overseas)
Had it not been for the belligerent Andre Russell, the Knight Riders might have finished at the bottom of the IPL 2019 table. The biggest concern for them will be their bowling resources. With the Eden Gardens turning into a spinner’s graveyard over the last few seasons, KKR will have to recruit a more potent group of quick bowlers to shield their spinners from the inevitable bad day at the office.
They’ve been unlucky with the twin injuries suffered by Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti and the duo’s road to recovery may inform a large part of Kolkata’s auction strategy.
Chris Lynn, although fresh off a ruthless 30-ball 91* in the Abu Dhabi T10, hasn’t had the kind of impact over the last two IPL seasons as he did in 2016, striking in the 130s compared to 180.98 in 2016.
However, with an average in the 30s since 2018 he could be viewed as a solid, if not spectacular, option at the top. His ability to hit quick bowlers also compliments Narine’s ability to wallop the spinners, making them a dangerous opening combination on their night. Don’t be surprised if KKR buys him back for less than the 9.60 Crores they paid for him in 2018.
Chennai Super Kings
Major Releases: Mohit Sharma, Sam Billings, David Willey
Major Acquisitions: None
Remaining Purse: 14.60 Crores
Remaining Slots: 5 (2 Overseas)
The oldest team in the IPL has once again opted for tried and tested players over the latest trends. Their strategy over the last few years has been to dominate on spin-friendly home surfaces, which the likes of Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, and Ravindra Jadeja will be able to exploit. The wily Mitch Santner and Karn Sharma will support them.
They might require a back up for Lungi Ngidi in case his body in unable to cope with a 14-game season. Although David Willey was clearly not the answer in 2019, CSK doesn’t have much in their auction purse to spend on an overseas quick.
The performances of Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav—both of whom scored slower than a run-a-ball in 2019—may encourage them to shell out the dough for a couple of young Indian batters to complement Ruturaj Gaikwad, who impressed on India A’s tour of the West Indies.
Kings XI Punjab
Major Releases: Ravichandran Ashwin (DC), David Miller, Andrew Tye, Sam Curran, Prabh Simran Singh, Varun Chakravarthy
Major Acquisitions: Krishnappa Gowtham (from RR), Jagadeesh Suchith (from DC)
Remaining Purse: 42.70 Crores
Remaining Slots: 9 (4 Overseas)
The departure of skipper Ravi Ashwin leaves them short of a senior spinner. Some of the mystery around Mujeeb, who had a middling 2019 campaign, is also starting to fade. Leading the spin attack may prove too steep a challenge for him or for new recruits, Krishnappa Gowtham and Jagadeesh Suchith.
It gets worse for Kings XI, who are thin on fast bowling and have struggled at the death over the last two seasons. With all the money they have in their purse, however, they can afford to splurge on someone like Mitchell Starc or Pat Cummins.
They’ve also been over-reliant on Gayle and Rahul at the top. Some would argue that the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfraz Khan, and Aaron Finch, could keep up the momentum throughout their innings. Perhaps all they need is a longer rope, something they will be hoping to benefit from now that Anil Kumble has taken over as head coach.
Sam Curran (7.2 Crores), Varun Chakravarthy (8.4 Crores) and Prabh Simran Singh (4.8 Crores) may be bought back at lower prices.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Major Releases: Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Dale Steyn, Tim Southee, Colin de Grandhomme
Major Acquisitions: None
Remaining Purse: 27.90 Crores
Remaining Slots: 12 (6 Overseas)
They too have been over-reliant on AB and Kohli for runs, although Moeen Ali has recently stepped in to fill a void. 2019 squad member and U19 star Devdutt Paddikal, who’s been all the rage with his recent form during the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, could be the tonic for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016.
However, big-hitters Colin de Grandhomme and Shimron Hetmyer were also let go so it will be interesting to see whether the Royal Challengers invest in another finisher or in a middle-order batsman. They may have to ask a local player such as Paddikal to bat out of position in either case.
After releasing the foreign fast-bowling trio of Tim Southee, Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Dale Steyn, Kohli’s men will be on the hunt for an overseas quick, to lead a strong supporting cast of Yuzvendra Chahal and Navdeep Saini.
Major Releases: Evin Lewis, Yuvraj Singh, Ben Cutting, Mayank Markande (RR via DC)
Major Acquisitions: Dhawal Kulkarni (RR), Sherfane Rutherford (DC), Trent Boult (from DC)
Remaining Purse: 13.05
Remaining Slots: 7 (2 Overseas)
Don’t let 10 releases fool you; the defending champions are one of the most settled units in the league. Many of those released were either injured at some point or injury replacements (or both in the case of Alzarri Joseph).
With only 13.05 Crores left to spend, their first team all but guaranteed, and a mega auction planned for the 2021 season, if Mumbai’s scouts can unearth yet another Hardik Pandya or Jasprit Bumrah, they could retain them at a bargain for 2021.
Despite a resurgence over the last year, Malinga is not the bowler he used to be and is not getting any younger. Mumbai may consider investing in a back-up death bowler such as Pat Brown or Chris Jordan.
Major Releases: Chris Morris, Colin Munro, Colin Ingram, Trent Boult (MI), Sherfane Rutherford (MI)
Major Acquisitions: Ajinkya Rahane (RR), R Ashwin (Kings XI)
Remaining Purse: 27.85 Crores
Remaining Slots: 11 (5 Overseas)
The biggest news for the Capitals is their purchase of Ajinkya Rahane for a whopping 5.25 Crores. With Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw almost certain to open, Rahane may slot in at 3, which could reduce the time that the dangerous duo of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant spend at the crease.
The acquisition of Rahane was made possible by the sale of Trent Boult to the Mumbai Indians. This would leave Delhi hamstrung in case Kagiso Rabada gets injured, so expect them to be in the market for an overseas quick.
They’re also in need of middle order reinforcements, having let go of Munro, Ingram, and Hanuma VIhari. The Colins struggled for form in IPL 2019, whereas Vihari’s exclusion is surprising given his recent international returns.
In terms of overseas options, Rassie van der Dussen may prove to be a popular option for many franchises, including the Capitals, who have a healthy 27.85 CR in their kitty.
Chris Morris’ exclusion was expected. Players such as Marcus Stoinis (released by RCB) and Jimmy Neesham (Unsigned) can fill the void left by the out-of-form South African. Buying Morris back at a lower price is always an option.
Major Releases: Krishnappa Gowtham (Kings XI), Jaydev Unadkat, Rahul Tripathi, Liam Livingstone
Major Acquisitions: Rahul Tewatia (DC), Mayank Markande (DC via MI), Ankit Rajpoot (Kings XI)
Remaining Purse: 28.90 Crores
Remaining Slots: 11 (4 Overseas)
Selling Rahane—arguably a T20 misfit—to Delhi for 5.25 Crores (they bought him for 4 Crores) was the biggest news of RR’s transfer window. This also allows Sanju Samson, who was pushed up to open last season, more deliveries to make an impact.
Krishnappa Gowtham struggled for form with both bat and ball in IPL 2019 although he only batted in 4 out of the 7 games he played. He was originally purchased as a big-hitter who could bowl, but he was increasingly used as a bowler, who could bat. 1 wicket in 7 games at an economy rate of 8.30 last season would have made this an easy decision for Rajasthan’s team management.
Jaydev Unadkat was released once again, but it remains to be seen if he will be bought back. The acquisition of Ankit Rajpoot suggests that this might be unlikely unless they want Unadkat at a further discount.
Smith, Archer, Stokes, and Buttler form their overseas core and should be available for the entire season. However, backups are always wise, which makes Liam Livingstone’s release surprising, especially with a price tag of just 50 Lakhs.
Rahul Tripathi can count himself unlucky after he was let go in spite of his limited opportunities at his preferred opening slot.
Major Releases: Shakib al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda
Major Acquisitions: None
Remaining Purse: 17.00 Crores
Remaining Slots: 7 (2 Overseas)
Despite qualifying for the playoffs, Sunrisers Hyderabad lost 8 out of their 14 games in IPL 2019. Aside from the headline-grabbing brilliance of Warner and Bairstow at the top and Manish Pandey’s resurgence, the rest of the batting line-up failed to deliver when required.
As a result, Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan have been released from the squad. The men in orange and black desperately need to invest in Indian batting talent and a finisher, who they may choose to source from overseas.
In the spirit of continuity and maintaining a strong core, don’t be surprised if they bring back Hanuma Vihari, who started his career with SRH before drifting into T20 obscurity.
The struggles of Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma also contributed to a disappointing season. They would be wise to scour the Indian domestic scene for reinforcements.