IPL 2018 Auction Review and Team Ranking

ipl 2018 auction reportPurses have been spent, squads have been assembled and now the countdown to IPL11 can truly start now that the 2018 auction has concluded. Over the weekend, the auction took place and as always, millionaires were made, some big names went unsold and some surprises were revealed as the line ups were finalised.

Now that the money has been locked away for another year, let’s take a look at those squads and consider the likely contenders for 2018’s version of the Indian Premier League. The bookmakers have already made their decisions but this is how we rank the teams in the immediate aftermath of this weekend’s auction.

Be sure to follow our IPL betting page for more analysis as the season progresses.

Total Spent at Auction: 4,31,70,00,000
Players Sold: 169
Overseas Players: 56

Most Expensive Player: Benjamin Stokes (Rajasthan Royals) 12,50,00,000 (2.89% of Total Spent)

1. Chennai Super Kings

Total Players: 25

Overseas Players: 8

In their two year absence from the Indian Premier League, the Chennai Super Kings have slipped in the rankings with Mumbai emerging as the most successful team in the history of the competition.

After the first round of purchasing, CSK were criticised for relying on veteran players but no-one can deny that this is a vastly experienced squad and it’s surprising for us to see them out as 8/1 outsiders with some bookmakers.

MS Dhoni returns behind the stumps and while some regulars, most notably R Ashwin, are missing this year, the men in yellow are largely very familiar. Ravindra Jadeja is back with his left arm spin and late order hitting while Dwayne Bravo returns to keep it tight at the death.

Murali Vijay is set to get the side off to a fast start and there is a strong middle order with Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina available plus Sam Billings if required. The remaining overseas slots may, however, be reserved for the bowlers with Mark Wood and Lungi Ngidi providing the pace alongside spinners Imran Tahir and Mitchell Santner who are available to back up Harbhajan Singh.

Getting the balance right will be tricky and while Shane Watson usually gets a guaranteed place, we’re not sure he deserves it if he’s not bowling. Having said that, we’re still ranking Chennai higher than the bookmakers and genuinely feel they can bounce back to claim their third trophy.

2. Mumbai Indians

Total Players: 25

Overseas Players: 8

Last year’s winners the Mumbai Indians retain most of the squad that won the Indian Premier League 12 months ago and they will be led once again by Rohit Sharma. A late decision to move for Evin Lewis might prove productive after a strong year for the West Indian but Lewis, along with skipper Rohit appear to be the only two specialist openers in the squad.

With Lendl Simmons left on the shelf, JP Duminy and Kieron Pollard are available in the middle order but the focus this year, as far as overseas signings were concerned, was on the seam bowling department.

The Fiz – Mustafizur Rahman – enjoyed a great IPL debut in 2016 but wasn’t as effective for the Sunrisers last year. The Bangladeshi could be a good buy however, if he stays fit and continues to confuse batters with his variation.

Australia’s Pat Cummins provides the pace while his countrymen Jason Behrendorff and Ben Cutting can provide seam support if required. With Jasprit Bumrah included, this could be the most potent new ball attack in the IPL while domestic players are relied on in the spin department.

Add in the all-round skills of the Pandya brothers and this Mumbai side could have a genuine chance of taking the title once again.

3. Royal Challengers Bangalore

Total Players: 24

Overseas Players: 8

For once, RCB are not starting as clear favourites but the team who always let you down are still highly fancied by the bookies. Will this finally be their year after taking the bold decision to release Chris Gayle after an admittedly poor IPL in 2017?

The Royal Challengers have another strong squad headed by Virat Kohli and the usual overseas back up of AB De Villiers who needs to stay fit and firing across the tournament. Gayle’s place has been taken by Brendon McCullum but after a subdued Big Bash, the Kiwi also needs to address suggestions that he is past his best.

Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali are the all rounders joining up from England’s impressive ODI squad while the selectors have the option to include Quinton de Kock if either McCullum or De Villiers are below par.

Seam bowling is strengthened by Colin De Grandhomme, Tim Southee and Nathan Coulter-Nile but already we can see that RCB are going to have difficulty in balancing and keeping their overseas players happy.

The domestic strength looks good with the outstanding Yuzvendra Chahal backed up in the spin department by the developing Washington Sundar. Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj should start as first choice seamers while Manan Vohra and Parthiv Patel will need to back up skipper Kohli in the run scoring department.

As always, this is a seriously strong RCB side on paper but will this be the year that they finally gel as a team? We’re ranking them in third place so it’s a case of getting past the group stages but not quite making it to the final.

4. Rajasthan Royals

Total Players: 23

Overseas Players: 8

Back after a two year absence, the Royals were big spenders at the auction and are set to field the two most expensive buys for 2018. It’s been a difficult few months for Ben Stokes on a personal level but he has the chance to put that behind him as he lines up with fellow million dollar man Jaydev Unadkat.

The Royals picked up a total of eight overseas players and are likely to want to put Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Steve Smith in the starting XI while Jofra Archer is another expensive buy who is obviously untested in the IPL.

D’Arcy Short has been breaking records over at the Big Bash and will deserve a chance at some point while Ben Laughlin may have to sit the tournament out. With Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi, K Gowtham and Unadkat forming a strong domestic quartet, Rajasthan arguably have the best starting XI in the tournament but as we know, this is a long competition and already questions are being raised about their squad depth. Despite that, they’re ranked four with us and should get beyond the group phase at the very least.

5. Kings XI Punjab

Total Players: 21

Overseas Players: 7

KXIP are similar to the Royal Challengers in a sense but while they can also pack their side with star buys, no-one expects them to get beyond the group stage. A solitary appearance in the final is their best return but can this be their year?

David Miller is back after a difficult IPL10 when he ultimately ditched the captaincy but there’s no Glenn Maxwell who took over from the South African. Miller has been in good T20 form for his country, scoring the fastest international hundred in this format back in October but he needs to bring that touch across to his franchise.

Kings were the side who finally decided to take a chance on Chris Gayle as the West Indian came up for sale for the third time. Gayle was far from his best in 2017 but can still be devastating and has the ability to show other franchises what they missed.

Aaron Finch is another new face and a man likely to partner Gayle at the top of the order but while KXIP have fewer overseas players than most, it’s still going to be tough to find their best starting XI. Marcus Stoinis and Andrew Tye have both shown their value for Australia in the limited overs series with England but will one of them miss out at the start of IPL11?

The domestic contingent has arguably been Kings’ weaker suit in the past but that could all change with the arrival of R Ashwin who is also set to skipper the side. Axar Patel is back but with the long serving Sandeep Sharma gone, more pressure is on Mohit Sharma and the overseas bowling back up. And, of course, there is the enigma that is Yuvraj Singh who has another new franchise and another chance to prove the doubters wrong.

Some observers have pointed to the lack of a specialist keeper but KL Rahul can fill that role and score big in the top order. Kings usually disappoint us but we’re still going to rank them just a little higher than the bookmakers.

6. Delhi Daredevils

Total Players: 25

Overseas Players: 8

While they finished in sixth place last year, Delhi are the rank outsiders with the bookmakers for 2018 but we think that some decent purchases could see them repeat that sixth placed finish. They’ve picked up Gambhir and at 36 he needs to stay in decent touch but there is back up from the power hitting of Jason Roy and Colin Munro, both of whom have scored heavily at international level in the last 12 months.

Some feel that Delhi will have to pick between those two but the side will have a better chance of moving up the table if they can find a place for both men. If that is the case and it’s assumed that Glenn Maxwell is another definite starter, the Daredevils will have to choose between Dan Christian, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Trent Boult for one overseas place.

Elsewhere they look in good shape with Rishabh Pant scoring heavily in the domestic T20 competition and he will be backed by Shreyas Iyer while the bowling is boosted by the experience of Amit Mishra and Mohammed Shami.

Traditionally they’ve been poor but we feel that the Daredevils are equipped to match last year’s sixth placed finish at the very least.

7. Sunrisers Hyderabad

Total Players: 25

Overseas Players: 8

A number of bookmakers can’t split the teams and in some cases, there are four sides listed as joint favourites. One of those is the Sunrisers Hyderabad who made the first purchase of the weekend by using their right to match card to land Shikhar Dhawan.

It will be a familiar look to this squad with Dhawan set to open the batting with David Warner and Kane Williamson available to come in at number three. Sunrisers have been reluctant to use Williamson in the past however as, like all franchises, there are questions over which overseas players to leave out.

Wrist spinner Rashid Khan from Afghanistan must be a certain starter after continuing to impress, this time at the Big Bash in Australia while Hyderabad can also call upon Chris Jordan, Shakib Al Hasan, Billy Stanlake and Carlos Brathwaite.

The Sunrisers lost at the semi final stage last season and should be looking to make Williamson an automatic choice, particularly with Warner struggling for runs in Australia. The squad has a strong domestic contingent and the bowling side of things looks covered.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma and Siddarth Kaul are among those battling to line up with Rashid Khan while either Jordan or Stanlake can be effective at the death. Batting could lack depth however and it will need Dhawan, Warner, Williamson and Manish Pandey to be in top form.

Traditionally, one side always flops and while it was RCB last year, we think the Sunrisers are under real pressure with too much resting on players who are in mixed form.

8. Kolkata Knight Riders

Total Players: 19

Overseas Players: 7

Apologies to KKR fans but we don’t think you had a very good auction at all. Firstly, you’ve a very small squad of 19 players and while the owners spent heavily on Chris Lynn, his injury record makes that purchase something of a gamble.

With Gautam Gambhir gone amidst reports that he asked Kolkata not to bid for him, there is a lot of pressure on Robin Uthappa and while Cameron Delport can also open the batting, he’s unlikely to be a first choice pick. Andre Russell has missed a lot of cricket and can also be considered a gamble while at the age of 31, Javon Searles remains a virtual unknown.

There is some good news however because the bowling attack looks strong with Mitchell Starc as the spearhead, backed up by Mitchell Johnson who has enjoyed a productive Big Bash. Sunil Narine returns and with Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav and Vinay Kumar available, this is one of the better attacks in the competition.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of squad depth, we’re ranking KKR in last place this year.

It’s almost certain that there will be some changes to the squads before the first ball of IPL11 is bowled. We’ve seen in recent years that injuries are likely to come along so maybe some of the high profile unsold players such as Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill and Ishant Sharma will get a gig after all.

The changes certainly won’t be widespread however so, based on the purchases made at the 2018 auction, this is how we rank the teams but do you agree with our selections?