IPL 2023 mini-auction: Top-order batter common thread in wish list of Lucknow Super Giants, Gujarat Titans & Punjab Kings. Shikhar Dhawan to captain Punjab Kings in IPL 2023.
The IPL fever has already started with the mini-auction for the 2023 edition set to take place in Kochi on December 23, 2022. This is a mini-auction and a total of 405 players from India and overseas will go under the hammer on the D-Day.
Not just the players’ lives but the teams’ future direction will be at stakes, depending on how they fare at the auction. The team that ends the day-long auction process having a complete squad, will have their noses ahead come the start of IPL 2023 in March-April.
With a large talent pool set to enter the auctions, teams will have an opportunity to further strengthen their side after having retained their core players, while few teams have released some of their first-choice players from the last season. The teams that fall in the latter category might have a task ahead of them this Friday.
Yes, the team representatives would have done ample homework before coming into this event. We have analysed the teams based on their current squad list, what would be their pain points and whom they could target at the auctions.
Let us look at the gaps that Punjab Kings, Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Lions will look to fill at IPL 2023 mini-auction.
Punjab Kings (PBKS)
Current Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Shahrukh Khan, Jonny Bairstow, Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma, Raj Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Nathan Ellis, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar
No of Overseas players: 5
Maximum slots left to be filled: 9
Overseas slots: 3
Purse left: INR 32.23 crore
Punjab Kings are one of the teams that will be kept busy at the upcoming auctions. Ahead of the event, the PBKS team released their skipper Mayank Agarwal and replaced him with Shikhar Dhawan. They also let go of all-rounder Odean Smith who was an expensive buy last season. With the three overseas slots in the playing XI more or less fixed, i.e., Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Kagiso Rabada, PBKS might want a top-order Indian batter to partner Shikhar Dhawan at the top.
Some of the Indian options they might consider buying at the auctions are Ajinkya Rahane, the in-form Narayan Jagadeesan or even buy back Mayank Agarwal at a lesser price to partner skipper Dhawan at the top. Also, they can go for someone like Kane Williamson as an anchor and the fourth overseas option. This will mean Jonny Bairstow can open, something which PBKS weren’t able to do last season with Mayank in the side. This option will give them the much-needed solidity at the top and bolster the middle-order even more as the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Jitesh Sharma, Liam Livingstone can become the rest of the top seven.
With the departure of Odean Smith, PBKS will look to bolster their lower order with an all-rounder. Several players who can make the rounds are Jason Holder, Sam Curran, Ben Stokes and youngster Cameron Green. Punjab also released two Indian pacers - Ishan Porel & Vaibhav Arora - and will look to add two or more young Indian pacers to their ranks. It is possible they might also target one of the foreign pacers like Jhye Richardson, Coulter Nile, Andrew Tye among others.
Lucknow Super Giants (LSG)
Current Squad: KL Rahul (Captain), Aayush Badoni, Karan Sharma, Manan Vohra, Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis, Krishnappa Gowtham, Deepak Hooda, Kyle Mayers, Krunal Pandya, Avesh Khan, Mohsin Khan, Mark Wood, Mayank Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi
No of Overseas players: 4
Maximum slots left to be filled: 10
Overseas slots: 4
Purse left: INR 23.35 Cr
Lucknow Super Giants do have their bases covered before the auctions but will have to do certain things right to make the team complete. The KL Rahul-led side don’t have a solid number 3/4 with the release of Manish Pandey and Evin Lewis from the team. Though Indian talents like Deepak Hooda and Ayush Badoni did well last season, there is a place up for grabs.
With only Mark Wood and Avesh Khan in the ranks apart from the pacer Moshin Khan, LSG will definitely want a pacer both from India and overseas to make their squad even more balanced. Some of the options are Richardson, Odean Smith, Romario Shepard, Coulter Nile.
Alternatively, the Super Giants may need a fast bowling all-rounder to accompany the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Hardik Pandya in the middle-order, or they could buy back Jason Holder at a lesser price or go for someone like Sam Curran, Ben Stokes or Green.
Gujarat Titans (GT)
Current Squad: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Shubman Gill, David Miller, Sai Sudharsan, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Rashid Khan, Rahul Tewatia, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Pradeep Sangwan, Darshan Nalkande, Jayant Yadav, R Sai Kishore, Noor Ahmad, Abhinav Manohar, Vijay Shankar
No of Overseas players: 5
Maximum slots left to be filled: 7
Overseas slots: 3
Purse left: INR 19.25 Cr
Gujarat Titans, the defending champions as expected retained most of their players in the squad before the auctions. The top-order is settled, but GT might feel a void at the number 3 slot and may want to fill that with an Indian batter.
GT do have an Indian domestic power-hitter in Abhinav Manohar, but he is more of a middle-order batter and a probable finisher. They tried Vijay Shankar at number 3 last season, but the experiment was not fruitful as he had a disappointing outing with the bat. Even with the ball, Shankar didn’t fulfil the potential that his talent promised.
This makes a compelling case for them to have a stable top-order. Wriddhiman Saha did pretty well last season, and Shubman Gill is an automatic pick at the top. This gives room for the defending champions to try an Indian batter who can anchor the innings at number 3, as they have enough firepower down the order in the form of David Miller, Hardik and Rahul Tewatia. Perhaps, a player like Ajinkya Rahane could very well fit in GT’s scheme of things, or they may give an extended run to the youngster Sai Sudhasan. They might also look to buy an overseas batter who can anchor the innings.
GT released Lockie Ferguson trading him to KKR and they are now left with only Alzarri Joseph who can bowl at different stages of the innings. So, it might be possible that GT might look to acquire an Indian pacer to partner Mohammed Shami.
The Hardik Pandya-led team will look for an overseas top-order Indian batter who can anchor the innings, and a quality overseas pacer from the available list like Reece Topley, Coulter Nile, Jhye Richardson or Adam Milne.
This could be the agenda for these three teams in the upcoming IPL mini-auction scheduled to be held in Kochi on December 23.