The countdown to the latest T20 cricket season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) begins 15th December 2015, with new franchises Rajkot and Pune battling it out to pick five players each from the suspended Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) franchises from the last season.
Among the big guns up for bidding at the IPL Players’ Draft at the Mumbai Cricket Association clubhouse in Mumbai are MS Dhoni, Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson, R. Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Dwayne Bravo and Steve Smith—all of whom form part of a pool of capped players.
The uncapped players from the two suspended CSK and RR teams will be part of a main IPL auction to be held on 6 February 2016. The hugely successful suspended teams will, however, be allowed to return to the one of cricket’s most popular slam-bang tournaments after the end of the next two seasons.
Pune and Rajkot have a minimum purse of Rs 40 crore to buy their players, with a cap of Rs 66 crore on their pockets. Dhoni, Smith, Watson, Ashwin and Jadeja are expected to be among the biggest draws at the Draft auction—with the first capped player to be paid Rs 12.5 crore, followed by the other four capped players bagging Rs 9.5 crore, Rs 7.5 crore, Rs 5.5 crore, and Rs 4 crore, respectively.
The two new franchises, which can later pick uncapped players at the main IPL 2016 auction, have found their way into the ninth edition of the IPL after some of the co-owners and officials of CSK and RR were suspended earlier in July this year on charges of betting and spot-fixing of matches in 2013.
While Intex Technologies won the bid for the new Rajkot franchisee, Sanjay Goenka’s New Rising company bagged the bid for Pune in a reverse bidding process held on December 8. The Pune franchise may, however, have a big advantage in the December 15 auction, as it put in the lowest bid during the reverse bidding—which now allows Pune to choose the first capped player in the Draft auction.
The Draft auction also gives both the new franchisees a big edge in that it ensures that they get a pick of almost all the best players released from the suspended teams, before the other six teams in the IPL League get a look in at the main auction in February.
The IPL 2016 T20 tournament is slated to kick off from April 9 through to May 29, 2016.