Chennai, Feb 1: The IPL auction saw plenty of action, which was certainly more exciting than anything that India-Sri Lanka cricket series is capable of throwing up.
Even before the auction we had a good news. That CSK is coming back? No, that Risng Pune Supergiant is not coming back. It has to be the most hideous name in the history of hideous names.
Anyway, with auction over, here is the Crank's News team doing some number-crunching (who are we kidding, we don't know even two-tables) and hard-nosed analysing on the various teams:
Chennai Super Kings: Chennai Super Kings, or its new name in its comeback, Gated Community of Superannuated Cricketers, seems a 'well-settled' unit with a good mix of senior cricketers, super-senior cricketers and plain doddering dodos. During the auction, the CSK desk kept going for elder players, making many wonder whether it was actually a cunning strategy of Stephen Fleming to pick himself back into the squad. Towards the end, the team think-tank kind of redeemed itself by making a slew of young picks, probably in the hope that in the coming days that they (the youngsters) will doubtless become elder.
The squad that is to be led by MS Dhoni has four other potential wicket-keepers, this is kind of having item dance numbers of Rai Lakshmi and Neetu Chandra in a film starring Sunny Leone. On the whole, CSK's business strategy seems pretty smart, especially because it can claim tax refund under 'investments in pension funds'.
Delhi Daredevils: You can say Delhi Daredevils was one of the real winners at the auction room with some smart and inspired choices like Sandeep Lamichchane, who as everybody knows is literally a difficult bowler to read because he has an extremely difficult spelling for his name. The team strategists, involving Ricky Ponting, Mahela Jayawardene and another guy who will push Saurabh Shukla to third place in Saurabh Shukla-look alike contest, made some interesting buys including Glenn Maxwell knowing full well that he is Glenn Maxwell. Overall, Delhi Daredevils has the team that is very strong, and will be the one that other franchises will be wary of, which they will be and eventually, as ever, and beat it before the finals.
Kings XI Punjab: Kings XI Punjab brought to the auction table the aged-world cricketing truth that aggressive buys can at best make people take notice of you occasionally. But for people to consistently take note of you, you needed a beautiful Bollywood actress in your table. They will keep noticing you so much that you will be distracted to pick a squad that more or less has no real wicket-keeper in it. But we also think that Kings XI Punjab is on to something here. If its bowlers keep bowling --- certainly going by the evidence in previous IPL editions --- trash, might as well remove the WK and have one more fielder elsewhere. But KXIP's bowling is such that it would need several more fielders elsewhere.
Kolkata Knightriders: One look at the Kokata Knightriders team at the auction, you could tell --- cricket purists will agree with us --- Juhi Chawla looks young for her age. Okay, that was lazy and borderline sexist objectification. But what can we do? Because we got asked, during the auction, who is that gent one seat away from Juhi? Of course, it was Jacques Kallis. People remember the Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak actress but not the guy who was part of many extraordinary South African teams that had extraordinarily choked on many occasions. Coming back to the KKR team, it is well known that it had some issues with the previous captain Gautam Gambhir, and hence seems to have opted for a team that may not have a captain as such. The toss, we think, will be done by the guy picked by one of its many sponsors after a contest. Cool plan, we would think. Picking a captain from eleven players would seem to be the lesser of the problems facing KKR, because it has to first put eleven players in the park.
Mumbai Indians: Straight up, we promise we will not make any silly jokes on Nita Ambani and her obvious botox use. You think them up yourselves. Mumbai Indians, as the cliche goes, is a close-knit family unit. But when your top two players, Hardik and Krunal Pandya, are actual blood brothers it better be. Mumbai Indians have got their strategy right to a T: Whenever a player or the team does well, whatever strategy it is, attribute it to the inputs of Sachin Tendulkar. ("Tendulkar sir advised me to play the ball late. So I played the ball only in the highlights package".)
Rajasthan Royals: It has some of the hottest names for the T20 game. Ben Stokes, Jayadev Unadkat, Darcy Short, Steve Smith, Joffra Archer, K Gowtham, Jos Buttler. Yet, it cannot take things for granted, as the squad also comprises Stuart Binny. Despite all the riches, Rajasthan Royals seems to miss that X-factor that made it the champion in the first edition of the IPL. That X factor, going by his escapades should be XXX-factor, is what Shane Warne brought the team. RRs need a Warne like inspirational figure. It is a different matter that Warne himself was banned when he took a diuretic to literally look an inspirational figure.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: The second biggest talking point of the auction was the smart picks made by the Sunrisers team. The major talking point was of course Preity Zinta's toothache and how she overcame it to participate in the auction (How motivating). The Sunrisers have picked a 25-member squad, a number that would constitute a nuclear family in a low-budget Telugu masala movie. Sunrisers are already spoken of as one of the favourites of this year's IPL. The other favourites are, as ever, the cheerleaders.
Royal Challengers: It has always been an exciting team to watch, especially with Virat Kohli on the field showing more emotions than Sivaji Ganesan did in Pattakathi Bairavan. The team also has the likes of AB de Villiers and Brendon McCullum, Moen Ali and you can rest assured that getting past any total posted by this team will be the second most difficult thing on any night in Bengaluru. The first most difficult thing to get past in Bengaluru on any night is of course the Silk Board traffic.