How IPL teams are looking at the World T20
- An auction soon meant attention to detail on many, from Hasaranga, Warner to a power hitter from Afghanistan.
Held after five years, the Twenty20 World Cup was ideally timed for its biggest by-product - the Indian Premier League (IPL).
It was the resounding success of the first edition of the T20 World Cup, in South Africa in 2007, that led to IPL being birthed.
Teams in the league can have details of each player at the click of a button. But what better opportunity to buttress dataset trends than a World Cup? Especially with a mega auction where the teams will go in for an overhaul around the corner.
“It’s a superb opportunity for us to get to see these players at close quarters before the auction,” said Satish Menon, the CEO of Punjab Kings.
“All our scouts are busy (with this and the T20 Mushtaq Ali Trophy) while our analysts are also looking at Ireland, Scotland or Namibia. We are getting to see a lot of raw talent.”
Lalchand Rajput, who was the cricket manager of the 2007 T20 World Cup winning team and has coached Mumbai Indians and Afghanistan, said: “The performance in this World Cup matters because the conditions and pitches are similar to India. The IPL sides will get a good idea of the players who can do well on slow, spin-friendly playing surfaces.”
The franchises have more work to do at the Mushtaq Ali tournament because they have to scout more domestic players but in terms of the value of performance there is no comparison.
Explaining the difference, Menon said: “It (a good display in the UAE) matters hell of a lot. The pressure in which they are playing at the World Cup, it will be about the same pressure in the IPL.”
Apart from checking how the established names are doing, teams will also look at exciting, new talent. For Associate teams, the World Cup is the only chance where they can impress IPL head hunters. “For example, Namibia’s left-arm pace bowler Ruben Trumplemann, David Wiese, they might get a look in. When I was the coach of Afghanistan, I kept saying that Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan are good. They were unknown names then. Sunrisers Hyderabad took the chance and they are now world beaters,” said Rajput.
A Lankan renaissance
Joy Bhattacharjya said he anticipated “a Sri Lankan renaissance.”
“When we started the IPL we had six-seven great Sri Lankan players. You had Lasith Malinga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara. And it reached a stage last year where there was not a single Sri Lanka player who was in the first eleven. I think you are going to see a core of Sri Lankan players back again, at least three to four and that is the biggest upside from this World Cup,” said Bhattacharjya, a former team director with Kolkata Knight Riders.
Bhattacharjya predicted “big money” for Wanindu Hasaranga and Charith Asalanka. “I also feel Lahiru Kumaru will be in demand. Even Maheesh Theekshana, he may not have a great World Cup but he will be a big draw. Today, if you have a new action and you are not known (you are effective). You don’t need to play five matches for your team; you can play one or two crucial matches to target a top player in the opposition. For example, the best chance to get Rohit Sharma is to get him early. So when you play in Mumbai, you throw a Theekshana at him.”
Afghanistan players will also benefit from the tournament, said Bhattacharjya. “Till now, from that country, we were only looking at bowlers. This time the performance of their left-handed batsman Najibullah Zadran means their batting talent has also started to emerge.”
Rajput said Zadran is a great striker of the ball and like Yuvraj Singh can “massacre” spinners. “I had picked him for my team, Winnipeg Hawk, in the T20 league in Canada when we won the championship in 2019. Though he didn’t get to play we know he has the game for T20 cricket,” said Rajput, who was coach of Afghanistan from 2016 to May, 2018.
For Bhattacharjya, Zadran would be a long-term investment. “Zadran is not scared to hit. He is not the first XI sort of player but may start to blossom in the second year with international experience. When you are buying in the auction, you are buying for three years, people like Zadran could in three years be really deadly players.”
Among the bowlers, apart from superstar Khan and the veteran Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman can expect the teams going hard for him. “I think the price of Mujeeb Ur Rahman is going to increase. He couldn’t play last year because Sunrisers Hyderabad couldn’t have accommodated Mujeeb and Rashid because of the four foreigners rule,” said Bhattacharjya.
Eye on Mitchell
There is no better way to catch the attention of the IPL market than to do well against India. Daryl Mitchell did that in this World Cup. He scored 49 off 35 balls with four fours and three sixes to lead their successful chase of 111. Mitchell has proved to be the biggest success story of the tournament. Promoted to open only because Tim Seifert joined the bubble late, he played the innings of the tournament in the semi-final with a match-winning unbeaten 72 off 47 balls.
As per procedure, after the World Cup once the franchises have made up their minds, they contact cricket boards through BCCI to add names of players they are interested in. You can bet many will want Mitchell to be in the auction pool.
Franchises will also be keenly tracking those who had a poor IPL season. The Punjab Kings CEO said even after an IPL flop show if a big-money buy does well at the World Cup he will be back in demand.
“In T20 you can’t only depend on the statistics and the figures, you have to layer that with the sense of the person’s personality, whether he has got steel like guts. Your classic case is Glenn Maxwell. It is difficult to judge him in one season,” said Menon.
A big name who should benefit big time from doing well at the World Cup is David Warner. He lost his captaincy as well as a place in the playing 11 at the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“Warner will be looking to be a captaincy option for one of the new teams. Because he is that senior, he is going to be released by his team. These teams have the right to get to him before anyone else does so Warner and KL Rahul, if he doesn’t want to be retained, will be the second captaincy option for the other new team,” said Bhattacharjya.
Sounding out a target
For some captains who are looking to sign a particular player, the World Cup can be a platform for informal contact. After games, when the two sides mingle around is a good time to send feelers to the cricketer. It had happened with Maxwell and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Maxwell has said d RCB skipper Virat Kohli sounded him out during the last limited overs series in Australia. “He talked to me about potentially playing for RCB. If I got the opportunity, he said “we would love to have you”. But obviously, there was an auction,” he said, in a video tweeted by RCB during IPL 2021.
Bhattacharjya said that is unlikely to happen much in UAE. “Finally, you have to buy player in the auction. The only thing I can do is to indicate to a player I am interested and get a sense of whether he is or not right for the team. The other thing you can tell a player is that we are looking at you as a captaincy option. This is the message that can be given during the World Cup but, by and large, beyond that they will not want to disturb, nor will the teams allow their players to be disturbed by outsiders,” he said.