Amid much hype, the auction for Indian Premier League 2020 was held at Kolkata on December 19. A total of 62 players, including 29 overseas, were sold at the auction, with Rs 140.3 crore being the total amount spent. Only three franchises managed to fill their quota of 25 players — Kings XI Punjab, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals.

While pacers dominated the auction, a few batsmen also walked away with handsome salaries. Glenn Maxwell was back with his former franchise for Kings XI Punjab for Rs 10.75 crore while Shimron Hetmyer was purchased by Delhi Capitals for Rs 7.75 crore.

In this feature, we analyze the batting strength of all eight IPL franchises. On the basis of the same, teams have been graded as strong, average and weak.

Strong

Mumbai Indians: Mumbai Indians, led by Rohit Sharma, have the strongest of all batting line-ups. No wonder they are four-time champions. With Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav at the top, MI made an excellent purchase at the auction by bringing in the big-hitting Chris Lynn (Rs 2 crore). That apart Mumbai have retained their core. West Indies limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard, Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal –, as well as South Africa’s wicket-keeper bat Quinton de Kock, are all proven match-winners with the bat.

Delhi Capitals: Under Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals were a rejuvenated outfit in 2019. And, with some smart purchases at this year’s auction, they should do well in 2020. Delhi have bought World Cup winner Jason Roy (Rs 1.5 crore), and the in-form West Indian Shimron Hetmyer (Rs 7.75 crore), both of whom will bolster their batting. Add to it skipper Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis, Rishabh Pant, and wicket-keeper Alex Carey (purchased for Rs 2.4 crore), and Delhi transform into a highly competent batting line-up.

Kolkata Knight Riders: KKR lost Lynn, but they purchased English sensation Tom Banton (Rs 1 crore), who is the current hot property on the T20 circuit for his daring strokeplay. Kolkata also rightly went for England skipper Eoin Morgan (Rs 5.25 crore), who can turn games with the bat while Rahul Tripathi (Rs 60 lakh) was a good budget pick. KKR already have the dangerous Andre Russell, maverick Dinesh Karthik and consistent Nitish Rana in their ranks, not to forget ‘opener’, Sunil Narine.

Average

Chennai Super Kings: CSK may be three-time champions, but one feels they have stuck to an aging outfit for one year too many. All-rounder Sam Curran (Rs 5.5 crore) was the only addition to their batting at the auction. A lot of batsmen in CSK, though highly experienced, are past their prime. Skipper MS Dhoni himself is struggling with his strike rate. Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis and, even Suresh Raina for that matter, are not the match-winners they once used to be. Veteran Shane Watson delivered in 2019 the final but lacked consistency. Can CSK prove critics wrong again?

Kings XI Punjab: The Kings did well by picking ‘Big Show’ Glenn Maxwell (Rs 10.75 crore) and all-rounder James Neesham (Rs 50 lakh) at the auction. One still feels they are a couple of batting match-winners short. Apart from Maxwell, they would depend heavily on skipper KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to deliver. Punjab would hope for the talented Nicholas Pooran to come good. Of course, they have Chris Gayle, who can blow hot and cold.

Rajasthan Royals: Royals’ decision to purchase Robin Uthappa for Rs 3 crore doesn’t seem like a smart one as he has been clearly struggling with form. Big-hitting all-rounder David Miller (Rs 75 lakh) is a decent buy, but he too is past his prime. Royals would thus depend on Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Sanju Samson to deliver with the bat while hoping young Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rs 2.4 crore) comes good.

Weak

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Apart from all-rounder Mitchell Marsh (Rs 2 crore), Hyderabad decided to place their faith in Indian youngsters at the auction — Priyam Garg and Virat Singh (both Rs 1.9 crore). As a result, on paper, their batting doesn’t look that strong. They would once again depend on David Warner and Jonny Bairstow at the top with Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey being the only other prominent batting stars in the team.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Have RCB got it wrong again? They have purchased all-rounder Chris Morris (Rs 10 crore), and Aaron Finch (Rs 4 crore), but the batting still remains a concern. RCB have been heavily reliant on skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. And while Finch’s inclusion will ease the pressure a bit, Moeen Ali and Parthiv Patel haven’t been consistent enough to inspire confidence. Bangalore would be hoping young all-rounder Shivam Dube provides the x-factor.

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