Except for the 27 players who were retained by their current IPL teams- 19 Indians and eight overseas- every other T20 player who decides to take part in the auction, is up for grabs.
Let’s look at the five players who will be the most sought-after by the ten IPL teams – remember there will be two new sides this year- and who could attract the biggest bids. Keep in mind how this can impact the IPL betting odds for 2022 as well!
It’s also worth remembering that Pakistani players aren’t currently eligible to play in the IPL.
KL Rahul (India)
Two seasons ago KL Rahul ended as the IPL’s top runscorer and this despite his Punjab Kings side not even making the Playoffs.
He scored 670 runs, more than anyone else, including players from teams such as the Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians, who played three and two matches respectively, more than Rahul.
And he almost repeated the trick in 2021.
Despite the Punjab Kings again not making the Playoffs and Rahul missing a further match due to illness, he still scored 626 runs at an average of 62.6, which included six fifties and a 98 not out from just 13 matches.
He was the IPL’s third-highest run scorer last year.
Rahul is one of T20’s premier batsmen, a player who can both accumulate runs and hit boundaries at will when necessary.
His IPL career average of 47 is right up there with the very best and includes two centuries and 27 fifties.
By the time he’s done with the IPL he’ll surely be right up there with the most prolific run scorers the league has seen.
But it’s worth remembering that there’s more to Rahul than just scoring runs.
He’s also an excellent wicket-keeper and a fine captain. For the latter reason, he may appeal in particular to one of the two new franchises who wish to secure a strong captain for the next few seasons.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
After SRH finished rock bottom in 2021, Khan decided he’d had enough of life at Hyderabad and that he wanted a new challenge.
Well, at least that’s one version of events.
Another is that he wanted to be the best-paid player at SRH and when the management decided that status was reserved for Kane Williamson, Khan decided to not be retained and take his chances in the auction.
Either way, he’s in the auction.
In five seasons of IPL cricket, he’s taken 93 wickets at a strong strike rate of 19.48.
But most impressive of all is his economy rate. In no season has he gone at more than 6.73 runs an over and back in 2020, it was a mind-boggling 5.37. In 2021 it was 6.33, proof he’s as stingy as ever with the ball.
His leg spin bowling often turns matches on its head and though it’s true that his batting hasn’t really progressed much, he remains arguably the best T20 bowler in the world.
Mitch Marsh (Australia)
The man they call Big Bison (he’s incredibly strong and muscular) didn’t play in the 2021 IPL and only played one match in the 2020 edition, getting injured in the very first match of the season.
But now aged 30, he’s just had the best year of his career in the T20 format.
It started with a series of excellent performances in a struggling Australia side touring the West Indies and Bangladesh.
For the first time in his career, he was asked to bat at three and came up trumps, scoring a few fifties as all those around him couldn’t adapt to conditions.
He then kept the number three slot for Australia at the T20 World Cup, saving his best performance for when it mattered most: the final.
It’s true that 173 wasn’t a big total to chase on a good wicket but it’s also true that his excellent unbeaten 77 off 50 gave New Zealand no chance at all.
Just a few weeks later playing for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash, he scored 100 not out in his first game of the season.
And he followed that up with scores of 86 and 42 not out, winning three man of the match awards in four games.
Remember that he’s also a useful bowler and you can see why plenty of IPL teams will be desperate for his signature.
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
By his very own high standards, Rabada didn’t have a particularly good 2021 IPL season.
He took 15 wickets in 15 games, going at 8.21 an over.
It explains why the Capitals chose to retain fellow South African pace bowler Anrich Nortje over him when the tough decision had to be made.
But in 2020 he was the IPL’s top wicket-taker with 30 in 17 games and in 2019 it was 25 in 12 games.
It takes great skill and talent to consistently take that many wickets as a fast bowler in India but then again, Rabada is one of the world’s premier fast bowlers in all formats.
Also an extremely agile fielder, plenty of IPL teams will figure his ability to always take wickets will be paramount to any title bid.
Ravichandran Ashwin (India)
He may be 35 but there are no signs that Ashwin is any less of a bowler than he was a few years ago.
A man who has represented India almost 250 times across all formats, he’s also in possession of one of the game’s best cricketing brains.
And for that reason, rather like Rahul, he may make a good captain if a team is on the lookout for one.
But it’s his off-spin – complete with variations such as the carrom ball – that teams will most want him for.
He can open the bowling, he can stem the runs in the middle overs, he can bowl at the death under the utmost pressure, he can do the lot.
His stats may not be up there with the very best of what the IPL has seen but they’re certainly good enough.
Add his tactical nous and some occasional lower-order runs and you can see why he’ll be a popular pick at the auction.