After four years of relative stability, the grandest T20 competition in the world got another major shake-up last weekend, with the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) first mega auction since 2018 changing the landscape of the tournament once more.
With 10 teams (Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans are the new franchises) spending over Rs 550 crores, 204 players (67 of them from abroad) were sold across two marathon days in Bengaluru.
Mumbai Indians may have been better off retaining Ishan Kishan instead of shelling out more than Rs 15 crore for him at the auctionTT archives
Among the headline purchases, Ishan Kishan, returned to Mumbai Indians (MI) at a whopping price of Rs 15.25 crores, making him the most expensive buy of 2022. Deepak Chahar and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) reunited for a stiff amount of Rs 14 crores while the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) acquired a potential captain in Shreyas Iyer for an eye-popping Rs 12.25 crores. Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) paid Rs 10 crores for the express pace of Avesh Khan, breaking the auction record for uncapped players in the process.
While most teams got good value for money in what turned out to be one of the best strategised auctions, hundreds of familiar (and not-so-familiar) names were left in the lurch, or as stand-in auctioneer Charu Sharma would say, “passed unsold”.
My Kolkata has rummaged through these names to come up with a lineup that can give any of the teams a run for their money. With a fine mix of previous IPL pedigree and surprise factors, this team should definitely contend for a play-off spot, if not go all the way (okay, all the way is a stretch!)
Sticking to the IPL regulation of allowing a maximum of four foreign players in every team, here’s presenting the IPL Unsold XI for 2022.
Murali Vijay was one of the pillars of the CSK team that dominated the early years of the IPLTT archives
A decade ago, you would have done well to find a more reliable opener in IPL cricket than this elegant right-hander from Tamil Nadu. Vijay enjoyed a stellar run with the CSK at the top of the order, forming a formidable opening partnership with Matthew Hayden in the first few seasons of the IPL. In the 2011 final against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), it was Vijay’s dazzling innings of 95 that set the CSK on their way to back-to-back championships. While leaner spells with the Delhi Capitals and the Punjab Kings have followed, Vijay, currently 37, can still lend stability at the top for the Unsold XI.
Chris Lynn struggled to adapt to the Mumbai Indians after his time at KKR came to an endTT archives
Gone are the days when Lynn could tonk the ball with consummate ease for the KKR, combining with Sunil Narine in one of the most bafflingly successful double acts in IPL history. But, at 31, Lynn still has plenty of firepower to offer and his big hitting, though more erratic nowadays, is far from extinct. With Vijay playing sheet anchor, Lynn will be entrusted to take the skin off the new ball and give this team a fast start during the powerplay.
Suresh Raina (captain)
After playing an integral part in 13 of the 14 IPL seasons till date, Suresh Raina will not be part of India’s cricketing extravaganza this time aroundTT archives
Scroll through the most memorable IPL seasons and one man’s omnipresence stands out. Indispensable for so long at the CSK, Raina, who is the fourth-highest IPL run-getter of all time, with over 5500 runs to his name, found no takers after going under the hammer this year. But there is ample room for an IPL legend in this team. Raina will essay his usual role of the batting fulcrum at number three. His off-spin may also come in handy on turning tracks and when it comes to fielding, we would take a 35-year-old Raina over most outfielders half his age. With his experience of leading the erstwhile Gujarat Lions to a play-off spot in 2016, Raina is also the automatic choice for captain.
Kedar Jadhav got lost in the middle order muddle at CSKTT archives
He may have had a forgettable last couple of years in the IPL, but Jadhav remains one of the most valuable utility players around. Capable of changing gears at any stage with the bat and throwing off the sharpest batters with his unconventional off-spin, Jadhav should slot in seamlessly into the middle order. So often a player who has had his sparks without ever exploding, Jadhav is the man in charge of milking the middle overs in this team.
Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib Al Hasan’s return to KKR did not go according to plan in 2021@Kolkata Knight Riders/Instagram
Arguably the greatest all-rounder in T20 history, Shakib endured an indifferent campaign for the KKR last year after returning to competitive cricket following his ban in 2020. It is true that Shakib no longer remains as dependable as he was in his peak, but his slow left-arm spin and pinch-hitting still make him of immense value to this team. Not to mention his priceless experience of being there, doing that, not just in the IPL but across T20 leagues elsewhere in the world.
With the focus firmly on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, Sachin Baby never got much of the limelight at RCB@sachinbabyy/Twitter
There is not a lot to write home about Baby’s IPL numbers, which include the solitary match last year in which he scored just seven runs. A look at his first-class stats, however, tells a different story. Baby’s baby-face may hint at eternal youth, but at 33, this naturally flamboyant striker of the ball has accumulated enough nous to handle tricky finishes and must steer this team over the line during close shaves at crunch times. Having him do well is also the only way we can get a hypothetical crowd to chant “Sachin…Sachin” once more!
Aditya Tare had his string of memorable moments with MI even though he never became a regular in the starting XIMumbai Indians
Remember Mumbai versus Rajasthan in 2014 when MI chased down 190 inside 15 overs and Rahul Dravid threw his cap down in disgust (yes, that actually happened)? On that occasion, it was Tare who played the IPL’s greatest cameo ever (or at least among the greatest) by smashing the only ball he faced for a six. Apart from his show-stopping sixes, Tare will also have his work cut out behind the stumps for this XI, especially when it comes to nailing the quick stumpings (ala Mahendra Singh Dhoni) when keeping up to the spinners.
Mohit Sharma’s CSK form translated briefly into Indian colours, most notably at the 2015 ICC Cricket World CupTT archives
Not many bowlers have mastered the art of moving the white ball off a good length and landing their yorkers on the mark in T20s as easily as Sharma, who has 92 IPL wickets to his name at a healthy economy rate of just over 8 runs per over. Once the man for all seasons for MSD, Sharma’s stock has fallen in recent times. But his core skills with ball in hand are far from fading, which is why he will be the leader of this team’s pace attack, hoping to land some decisive blows up top and at the end.
Andrew Tye was one of the most sought-after T20 bowlers in the world following his great debut with the Punjab KingsTT archives
Finishing as the purple cap holder in his maiden IPL season (2018) with 24 wickets for Punjab was some way for Tye to announce himself on cricket’s most glamorous stage. His slower balls, with more variations than Kim Kardashian’s closet, have proven unplayable for years, and there is no reason why he cannot reproduce them at 33. Anointed as the death-overs specialist in this team, Tye’s role is clear — get as many dot balls and wickets as possible when everybody in the opposition is keen to tee off.
Barinder Sran (right) was tipped by many to be the heir to left-armers like Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra before his performances fizzled outTT archives
Completing the trio of fast bowlers in this lineup is the nippy left-arm pace of Sran, who, at 29, happens to be the youngest in this team (yes, CSK do not have a monopoly on constituting the Dad’s Army). Apart from the difference in angle Sran brings, there are his impressive displays (for the Sunrisers Hyderabad) under pressure that suggest that Sran can do the job when everything is on the line. Anything like his 2016 IPL season, when he took 14 scalps, will more than suffice for this team.
Tabraiz Shamsi has hardly got a look-in during the IPL despite his world-class record with South AfricaTT archives
One of the X factors in the Unsold XI, Shamsi has previously held the No. 1 ranking for ICC T20I bowlers, a testament to his excellence in the shortest format with South Africa. First underutilised by the RCB and then neglected by the Rajasthan Royals, Shamsi’s left-arm chinaman will get its deserved due here as he attempts to outfox key batters and turn the tide of the games in the middle overs.