The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a platform considered as cricket’s biggest extravaganza, as some of the best in the business battle it out for supremacy through thick and thin. The IPL has further witnessed some of the fiercest rivalries amongst the franchises, with the fans cheering them on for glory. Things become very personal for the fans as they get extremely involved in each aspect of their favorite franchise’s performance.
One such rivalry is shared between the Mumbai Indians (MI) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). The two sides who have been extremely successful in the tournament over the years, share an intense relationship with their contests awaited with bated breath. This rivalry is set to extend to the auction table, as the two franchises look to strengthen their squad in all departments which might very well result in a bidding war between them.
MI looked fairly solid throughout the IPL 2019, it was the start of Rohit’s Sharma golden run of form that has transcended into all formats of the game. KKR on the other hand under a new skipper Dinesh Karthik had a rollicking start to their campaign only for disagreements between senior players and the absence of some big match-winners to derail their season. Things went from bad to worse as the season came to a close, so as a franchise they would be looking at roping in fresh faces who can help them start out afresh in IPL 2020.
Here’s taking a closer look at 5 players who will get KKR and MI into a bidding war:
1. James Neesham (New Zealand)
The New Zealand all-rounder has grabbed the limelight with his exceptional performances in the 2019 ICC World Cup, finishing as the nation’s highest run-scorer and wicket-taker. Neesham will be a handy addition to the Kolkata Knight Riders, as a backup for Andre Russell who has been extremely injury-prone in recent times.
The 29-year-old enjoys the ability to smash the ball to all parts of the ground while at the same time, pitch in four economical overs whenever necessary making him a good option. Neesham will also be a good addition down the order in the absence of Piyush Chawla.
The Mumbai Indians on the other hand, are in need of a backup option for Kieron Pollard, and Neesham can provide the perfect replacement in all departments. The all-rounder known for his instinctive and funny tweets further enjoys variations up his sleeve and is well-versed in Indian conditions, making him a reliable option for the upcoming auction. Neesham’s batting average of 24.59, strike rate of 138.38 and bowling average of 25.57 make him all the more attractive.
2. Tom Banton (England)
The English wicketkeeper-batsman has been hailed as one to watch out for, with his sublime performance in the recently concluded edition of the T10 league, where he smashed 162 runs in five games at a strike rate of 200. Banton’s ability to catch the opposition by surprise with his unorthodox gameplay, skill, and talent was further on the show after he smashed 80 runs off 28 deliveries against the Karnataka Tuskers during the course of the tournament. Not only this, but the cricketer was also the second-highest run-scorer in the T20 Blast 2019, smashing 549 runs in 13 matches at a strike rate of 161 and an average of 42.
Banton who is mentored by former England opener Marcus Trescothick has drawn interest from the Mumbai Indians as per reports. Not only this, he has further publicly expressed his desire to represent the franchise. The Englishman will certainly be a fine addition at the top of the order.
The Kolkata Knight Riders, on the other hand, are on the lookout for an opener who can get them off to blazing starts in the absence of Chris Lynn. Banton’s fearless gameplay could well make him a top prospect for the franchise. Also, there are talks going around that KKR released Chris Lynn only to use the RTM card for him at the players’ auction. The prospect of possibly seeing a Lynn-Banton opening partnership is mouth-watering.
3. Rahul Tripathi (India)
Maharashtra batsman Rahul Tripathi emerged onto the scene when he scored 391 runs in 14 games for the erstwhile Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 IPL season and led them to their first-ever IPL final. The aggressive opening batsman was Pune’s most consistent batsman throughout the season.
In the 2018 IPL auction, Rajasthan Royals bought Rahul Tripathi for a hefty amount of INR 3.40 crore. However, due to the presence of openers Ajinkya Rahane and Jos Buttler in the team, Tripathi failed to get regular chances at the top of the order and was asked to bat in the middle-order. A strategic decision that neither helped Rahul Tripathi nor Rajasthan Royals.
A change in batting position hampered Tripathi’s performances as he scored just 226 runs in 12 IPL games for Rajasthan across two seasons. The dip in his performances led him to be released his former franchise Rajasthan Royals.
KKR released Chris Lynn, which has made one of their opening slots vacant. Tripathi can replace Lynn at the top of the order for the Knight Riders. The Maharashtra batsman can open the innings with Shubman Gill or Sunil Narine and provide aggressive starts to the team. Both the players bat aggressively, which will benefit the Riders immensely. At just 26 years of age, Tripathi can be a part of the long-term core of Indian players for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Another team that will show a lot of interest in acquiring the services of Rahul Tripathi would be MI. They need someone who is attacking and fearless who can accompany Rohit Sharma at the top of the order. Tripathi has shined as an opener in his IPL career so far, so it won’t be surprising if MI goes all out to buy him at the auctions.
4. Eoin Morgan (England)
Being a World Cup-winning captain, Morgan could entice some of the franchises for a bidding war. The southpaw led his team from the front in the 2019 World Cup and was also the leading six-hitter of the tournament with 22 sixes in 10 innings. In the match against Afghanistan, Morgan created history by hitting the most sixes (17) in an ODI match. The IPL teams were not interested in Morgan during the previous auction; nobody targeted the left-hander when his name popped out. However, the case could be different this time.
KKR already have a decent middle-order comprising of DK, Nitish Rana, and Andre Russell. The addition of Eoin Morgan would add further potency to their strong and attacking middle-order.
There seemed to be a few misunderstandings between some KKR players during the previous season. At one-point Karthik even lost his cool on the pitch and that certainly didn’t go down well with KKR’s staunch supporters who were unhappy with DK at the helm. Getting Morgan in their team could provide them the flexibility to use his exploits as a World Cup-winning captain and that can help Karthik’s leadership as well.
MI, on the other hand, have the likes of Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya in their ranks who can be destructive finishers. They would look to target Morgan for the calmness he brings to surroundings and also for his clean hitting abilities. Morgan could easily complete MI’s middle order.
5. Yashasvi Jaiswal (India)
Yashasvi Jaiswal was undoubtedly the best emerging player in this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy. The 17-year-old from Mumbai hogged all the limelight with his stupendous batting in an otherwise unsuccessful campaign for his team. The left-handed opener was the highest run-getter for Mumbai and fifth overall in the entire tournament. In his six outings this season, Jaiswal mustered 564 runs at an astonishing average of 112 – including three centuries and a 50+ score.
Jaiswal registered his highest List A score of 203 against Goa, thus becoming the youngest player to score a List A ton. His efforts at such a young age speak volumes of his talent and ability to do well at the higher levels. His name will evoke a lot of interest among franchises at the players’ auction this time.
Being a local lad, MI would certainly look to get him in their squad and groom him. He can be either used as an opener or bat in the middle order. With Rohit Sharma being the skipper and the ‘Little Master’ Sachin Tendulkar as the team mentor, there is so much Jaiswal can learn and gain from getting into MI’s squad.
On the other hand, KKR also will show a lot of interest in buying him. As with his current form being so good and them lacking the firepower at the top of the order owing to Chris Lynn being released, no one should be surprised if this particular bidding war to get the 17-year-old really intensifies.
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