IPL4 – Format & Auctions

Finally, After all the long litigations and hours of meetings it almost seems final that IPL 4 would have 10 teams and 74 matches. There would 2 groups of 5 each which would play matches on Home and Away basis thus producing 40 matches. The next round will have top 6 teams playing against each other in home- away basis and thus producing another 30 matches. 2 semi finals, 1 3rd place match and the mega final would make it 74 matches over a period of 6 weeks.

The players auction has been finalized for 8th and 9th January 2011. There are 416 players available for the first round of auction. This list includes heavyweights like Rahul Dravid, YuvRaj Singh, Zaheer Khan from India and International stars like Brian Lara, Micheal Hussey and Kevin Peterson.  Out of these the list will be pruned down to a more reasonable number by December 24,2010 based on the interests shown by the 10 franchises. The base prices for the players are fixed but that is of course not indicative of the actual prices. Notable absentees in the list are Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Micheal Clarke who have resisted IPL’s money in favor of longer International career. Pakistani players are also not part of the list.

12 players have been retained by various franchises. Mumbai Indians have retained Sachin, Harbhajan Singh, Malinga and Pollard while Chennai have put faith in Dhoni, Raina, Vijay and Albie Morkel. Delhi have retained Sehwag while Bangalore are happy with Virat Kohli. Rajasthan have retained Shane Warne and Shane Watson. The other 3 teams namely Deccan, Knightriders and Kings XI Punjab and the 2 new teams of Pune and Kochi go with empty roster in the auction and the full 9 Million $ to spend.

Apart from the auctions the team will be entitled to sign the Indian domestic players which will make the backbone of any team. BCCI is yet to decide upon the final date from which this signing can happen.

The auctions would surely be as keenly followed as the actual IPL Matches.

Cheteshwar Pujara- The New Big Hope

Finally the call came. Cheteshwar Pujara has been drafted in the team for first test against Australia, beginning 1st week of October, at the expense of Yuvraj Singh. Cheteshwar Pujara, son of former cricketer Arvind Pujara has been waiting in the wings since couple of years now and at 23 he is the new big hope for India in Cricket especially Tests.

In the days of IPL and T20 cricket where hitting every ball out of the park is the fashion and scoring a quick fire 40 is important, the art of patient batting, building an innings, playing strokes and rotating strike is waning day by day. The art of batsman-ship as we all know is not easy to be found, especially amongst the new lot of Indian cricketers.

In Pujara we have a young player who is perfectly suited for the longer format of the game. He has got the technique and the temperament to build innings, play patiently, see out a hostile bowler and concentrate on occupying the crease. He is the new age-Dravid we all are looking forward to. He has played domestic cricket for Saurashtra since last few years and have scored massively, won respect for his team and has won respect amongst the opposition players. When selected to play for India A and emerging players tournament he has been consistently performing with the bat against West Indies, England, Australia and has even shown good leadership skills. In past he has played in Under 19 World Cup as well. His domestic record speaks for itself and his not so successful stint in the IPL with Kolkata Knightriders could be the blessing in disguise, which has allowed him to concentrate on the ‘real’ cricket.

We have seen youngsters such as Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay but none of them have so far cemented their positions in the squad. Raina, who has recently replaced Yuvraj Singh is still a suspect against hostile quick bowling. Rohit Sharma has all the potential but has never converted it to results on field. At this juncture when the senior players like Sachin, Dravid and perhaps Laxman have about couple of more years to give to Indian cricket we need few solid batsman who can take up the roles vacated by the seniors in near future. Pujara is that big hope. Pujara’s talent, ability, temperament shows that he is too good a player to fail at the big stage  but then once can never say that about any player. Pujara is too precious a player for the future of Indian Cricket in long run.

Inclusion of Pujara in the team does not guarantee that he would be in the playing XI, however being in the same dressing room as Sachin, Dravid and Laxman would do a great deal to the youngster and I am positive that given a chance he would prove his mettle.

All the best wishes, Cheteshwar.