The intriguing final season before the mega auction gives senior players the opportunity to show why they need to be retained, but equally it also gives fringe players the chance to prove that they belong. Only 29 games were played in IPL 2021, but a multitude of players put their hands up.
Players who have bolstered their chances of getting picked in the mega auction
Chennai Super Kings
Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu’s showing in IPL 2020 saw many predict that 2021 would be his last in the IPL, particularly given he was on the wrong side of his thirties, but the veteran reinvented himself in IPL 2021 and how. From a steady accumulator, he transformed himself into a go-for-broke-from-ball-one floater and remarkably struck at 200.00 to make jaws drop. With the showing, the 35-year-old has ensured that he’ll be landing a tasty contract come to the mega auction.
Jayant Yadav: 1 wicket in 3 games at an ER of 7.45 is by no means eye-catching, but Jayant Yadav, in the limited chances he got, just like last season, showed why he is just too good a spinner to be rotting on the bench. Though not reflecting in the numbers, Jayant did everything that was asked of him and, at times, did look like the best spinner in his franchise. Quality finger-spinners - who can bat - have become a rare commodity and so, on the back of his showings both last season and this season, Jayant will definitely be sought after in the mega auction.
Chris Lynn: “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” Chris Lynn took Eminem’s words a bit too personally. One chance (yes, ONE!!) was all he got across two seasons but in that one game, he proved why he is good enough to still be a starter in the IPL. 49 off 35 was what he scored on a sluggish Chennai wicket and for 5 games, it remained the highest score by an MI opener. The knock didn’t help MI win the encounter, but you suspect it has landed Lynn a contract for next season.
Lalit Yadav: Nothing raises a youngster’s stock more than backing up a stellar SMAT season with an impressive showing in the IPL and Lalit Yadav did just that. He did not quite set the stage on fire with the bat and showed only glimpses of his ability, but with the ball the 24-year-old was exceptional. Lalit got purchased for 20L in the 2020 auction, but don’t be surprised if this figure increases by tenfold in the mega auction.
Chris Woakes: For someone who has not played T20I cricket in 6 years, and for someone who has always been considered a misfit in the shortest format, Woakes’ showing in the first half of IPL 2021 was nothing short of sensational. He made the batsmen dance to his tunes on flat Wankhede wickets and wreaked havoc with the new ball, picking 5 wickets in 3 games at an ER of 7.45. Foreign bowlers with potency are usually hot commodities in the mega auction, so, on the back of his showing this season, expect at least one team to take a punt on him in the mega auction.
Ishant Sharma: In no way is Ishant, despite his seniority, getting retained by Delhi, but what he’s done through his showing in IPL 2021 is ensure that he’ll get picked by some team - maybe even DC - in the mega auction. With his metronomic consistency with the new ball, Ishant irked batsmen and ensured that he simply did not give openers any breathing space. Again, multiple teams would be more than willing to take a punt on the 33-year-old despite his wretched injury record.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Harshal Patel: To call the purple-cap holder a ‘fringe player’ is crazy but it is what it is. Come to the mega auction, though, Harshal might finally end up shedding the tag. He might still not be ‘special’ enough for RCB to retain or RTM him, but on the back of his showing this season, there is bound to be a mini bidding war for the right-armer in the mega auction.
Rajat Patidar: Would Rajat Patidar be a starter for any franchise? Not really. But will teams, on the back of what he showed this season, be willing to purchase him as a reliable backup? Most definitely. That’s it. That’s the answer.
Shahbaz Ahmed: RCB’s team combination meant that Shahbaz “strike rate of 7.50” Ahmed played just 5 matches, and that was a shame. But what Shahbaz showed this season was that he is the quintessential bits-and-pieces player any team would love to have. His bowling is good enough to warrant at least 2 overs every game, he can give the ball a proper tonk and can bat anywhere from 3-8. Again, expect teams to go after him to add depth to the squad.
Abdul Samad: Sunrisers wasted Samad through their hideous utilization of him in IPL 2021, but, should they not retain or RTM him, expect teams to fight to acquire the services of this 19-year-old. His ball-striking and six-hitting ability is among the best in the country and that alone renders him invaluable to any T20 setup. How much he’ll go for remains to be seen, but Samad will certainly have an IPL contract next season.
Khaleel Ahmed: Right up there as one of the most trolled players in the country, Khaleel, in IPL 2021, showed that he could be a handful in helpful conditions. Left-arm seamers, who can bowl fast are worth their weight in gold and Khaleel, this season, showed that he still is someone who could be worth investing in. Given he’s still just 23, teams will undoubtedly be willing to gamble.
Abhishek Sharma: Potential - and not performances - is what Abhishek has on his side and the same might ensure that he lands an IPL contract in the Mega Auction. He impressed with the ball this season, so franchisees will undoubtedly be enticed by what will happen should he also start clicking with the bat.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Rahul Tripathi: Again, the quintessential Indian uncapped batsman any side would love to have - either as a backup or a starter. Not talented or consistent enough to be a world-beater, but reliable enough to do a handy job every single time. Tripathi ended the season as KKR’s second-highest run-getter and this alone will land him quite a few bids in the mega auction.
Shivam Mavi: KKR retaining o RTM-ing Mavi looks unlikely, but there sure will be teams who would love to acquire him. Forgetting the abhorrent over to Shaw, Mavi impressed in IPL 2021 and showed how he could be a potential weapon with the new ball. Will he walk into any line-up? No. But he will definitely be a valuable asset to have in the squad.
Harbhajan Singh: Harbhajan will be 41 by the time IPL 2022 will start but if he wishes to continue, that really shouldn’t matter. This season, the veteran showed that he is still as good as any finger-spinner in the country - yes, even Ashwin - and so it wouldn’t even be a surprise if there’s a mini bidding war for him in the mega auction.
Jaydev Unadkat: “How does Unadkat have an IPL contract,” asked many, at the start of the season. Well, this season, he just showed why. Unadkat is no longer a world-beater in white-ball cricket but with the experience he has, he can be an invaluable asset when he gets it right. He got it right this season and the results are there for the world to see - 4 wickets in 4 games at an ER of 7.06. Would this be enough for him to secure a contract for the next cycle? Damn, right it would be.
Mustafizur Rahman: The Fizz has got his fizz back and there is simply no way he is not getting a contract in the mega auction after having endured his best season since 2016. Particularly with two more teams set to be added.
Yashasvi Jaiswal: Let’s be honest, prior to the start of IPL 2021, we all thought Jaiswal was not cut out for T20 cricket. However, what the youngster showed in the three innings he batted is that he is someone on the rise - a batsman that is improving by the day who has his best days ahead of him. That he’d eventually turn into a good T20 opener is something everyone saw coming, but the rate at which he’s managed to do so has been impressive. He is certainly getting a contract next season.
Riyan Parag: Another cricketer in the Abhishek Sharma category - just too good a talent for teams to not take a punt on. Across the season he showed glimpses of his talent, and that should be enough for him to secure a contract, come the mega auction. Granted RR don’t retain or RTM him.
Deepak Hooda: Hooda secured an IPL contract for next season the moment he blasted that 28-ball 64 in Punjab’s first game of the season. None of what he did post that knock mattered. Irrelevant.
Shahrukh Khan: More often than not SRK was put in uncomfortable positions by the Punjab top-order, but for someone playing in the IPL for the first time, the Tamil Nadu man showed maturity beyond his experience. SRK might not get purchased for 5.25 crore again, but he has ensured that he will be in an IPL team this time next year.
Harpreet Brar: This season, Harpreet Brar put up a 101 on how to secure an IPL contract. An absolute nobody prior to this season, one game was all it took for Brar to secure his future. There are many ways to earn an IPL contract but Brar took the easiest option - he casually dismissed AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell in the same game. Took a leaf out of Shreyas Gopal’s book there.
Riley Meredith: Did Riley Meredith do enough to secure a long-term IPL contract? No. But did he ‘show’ enough for teams to consider taking a punt on him? Absolutely. The Tasmanian breathed fire in Punjab’s last two encounters and that alone should be enough for at least one team to take him in the hope of him having a Nortje-esque season. Who wouldn’t love a 145-kph enforcer who can not just serve as an enforcer, but take the new ball and swing it at pace?