Dates, rules and five free agent players to watch out for: A guide to the 2016 IPL auction

Ahead of Saturday's auction, Kumar Shyam provides the lowdown on the 2016 Indian Premier League season.

The next auction for ninth season of the Indian Premier League takes place on Saturday in Bangalore.

When is the 2016 Indian Premier League?

The IPL runs from April 29 to May 23. It follows the World Twenty20, which also takes place in India, from March 8 to April 3.

What’s new?

The IPL was at the centre of the storm that led to an upheaval in the governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). A spot-fixing scandal sparked court and police intervention and led to the suspension of two of the eight franchises, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, the latter owned by then BCCI and ICC chairman Narainaswamy Srinivasan. The scandal led to his fall the top. The two franchises were replaced for the two-year ban period by Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions (Rajkot).

How does the auction work?

The six existing franchises had the choice of retaining players from the 2015 season. A total of 101 players were kept, including 37 overseas stars. Those players’ existing salaries were deducted from each franchises total budget of Rs660 million (Dh35m) with the rest available to spend in auction. Delhi have the most left to spend at Rs368m. Meanwhile, the two new teams, Pune and Rajkot, were allowed to buy five players at an initial draft last year, from the pool of players released when Chennai and Rajasthan were suspended. Both teams have Rs270m to spend at auction.

Who is in the draw?

A total of 351 players have been entered into the pool that will be available to go under the hammer. Only 116 spots are available.

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What names should we watch out for?

Aaron Finch (Australia)

The top-ranked Twenty20 batsman in the ICC rankings until last week, Finch’s hamstring is the only cause for concern after two comebacks for Australia were cut short. Nonetheless, he stands out from a big contingent of Australians. His country have 29 among 130 capped players. The top two scores in T20 internationals belong to Finch (156) and compatriot Shane Watson (124). Expect them and teammate Usman Khawaja to figure high on the list.

Jos Buttler (England)

Buttler had previously opted for Test cricket as a priority over IPL. This time around the English Cricket Board (ECB) has, in fact, encouraged Buttler to sign up since Jonny Bairstow has cemented the wicketkeeper’s slot for the national team. Three franchises — Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai — are already in the running for the Lancashire player before the opening bid has been announced.

Colin Munro (New Zealand)

A hard-hitting batsman, Munro has pulverised domestic bowlers with a 39-ball 82 on one occasion and 23 sixes in another. Mumbai Indians released him on December 31 since he was only brought in as cover for Finch in 2015. Ten days later, Munro, 28, hit the second-fastest half century in 14 balls against Sri Lanka, a week before the deadline of registering for the auction.

Dale Steyn (South Africa)

Sunrisers Hyderabad have released him after his least productive year in eight IPL seasons. Age also may be catching up with Steyn, but South Africa still miss him when he doesn’t play. In 2014, Steyn had the fastest delivery at 154.4kph. In fact, four of the top 10 quickest deliveries are his. Last year’s highest was Mitchell Johnson, only at 151.1 kph. Hyderabad’s impatience could be another’s gain.

Travis Head (Australia)

After the IPL, Australia’s Big Bash is the most high-profile T20 league. This season, Head scored 276 runs at a strike rate of 158.62. The left-hander was only second to Chris Lynn, who was retained by Kolkata. Head was also retained by Delhi Daredevils, but dropped at the last minute after the franchise suffered a yes-no moment of uncertainty in strategising for the auction.

Best of the rest

Others to feature high are Kevin Pietersen (England), Watson and Mitchell Marsh (Australia) who have the highest base price reserved. Martin Guptill (New Zealand), Dwayne Smith (West Indies) and Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh) are the dark horses.

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Who will be the main talking point?

The most expensive player from the last two auctions also remains the most intriguing case for this year’s event. He is synonymous of the drama that is attached with the auction. India’s Yuvraj Singh has ridden on his claim to fame of hitting six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad in 2007 in a warm-up T20 match to win the highest purse.

In 2014, he was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs140m but released then next year. Yuvraj came back from fighting cancer to be picked up by Delhi Daredevils for a purse of Rs160m, more than India and former Chennai captain MS Dhoni. He proved to be a dud again on the field and is up for auction on Friday. His IPL tally is 2,099 runs in 98 games at an average of 25. However, he is back in India’s Twenty20 side and franchise owners are not sure which way to go.

What else do we need to know?

In efforts to be more transparent, the BCCI released the salaries that the India players get. Topping the list is Virat Kohli, India Test and Bangalore IPL captain, at Rs150m. Dhoni, who will now lead Pune, follows at Rs125m. Among the international players retained, South Africa’s David Miller earns Rs125m from Kings XI Punjab.

It is difficult to predict which player is expected to take the fancy of the franchises. Price is not always commiserated by form, experience or even reputation. Apart from Yuvraj, Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Karthik were the most expensive buys last auction. All three have been released along with more big names such as Steyn, Pietersen and Finch. Rank unknowns such as India’s domestic player and Bangalore spinner KC Cariappa can spark a bout of frenzied bidding. Last year, Cariappa went from a base price of US$20,000 (Dh74,000) to be won by Kolkata Knight Riders for $350,000. As cricket commentator Charu Sharma has said: “Every auction is highly unpredictable. So expect the unexpected.”

By the numbers

101 — Players retained overall while 61 were released

37 — Overseas players retained among 101.

5 — Players each picked by new teams Pune and Rajkot

14 — Bangalore retained the most number of players among the 6 teams

84 — Million rupees is the salary of Bangalore’s Chris Gayle, joint record holder for fastest T20 fifty with Yuvraj Singh. Gayle also has the fastest 100 in 30 balls.

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