Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif has been announced as the assistant coach of Indian Premier League [IPL] franchise Gujarat Lions for the 2017 season.
Kaif will work under head coach Brad Hodge of Australia.
The Lions, led by captain Suresh Raina, finished top of the league table in the IPL in their debut season in 2016, but failure to win either of their qualifiers saw them finish third overall.
During his career, Kaif starred in 13 Tests and 125 ODIs for India with his most famous moment coming during the final of the NatWest series against England in 2002. He was also an integral member of the Indian team that reached the World Cup final in 2003.
As a player, Kaif represented Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. He played all 16 matches when an unfancied Rajasthan Royals side won the inaugural edition of the league in 2008.
IPL 2017 is set to begin on April 5, with the pre-tournament auction taking place February 20.
As the Indian Premier League [IPL] 2017’s auction approaches, and the franchise think tanks sit down to chalk out prospective purchases, we take you through their potential shopping carts.
Unlike most years, this is expected to be a largely subdued IPL auction with a few accelerated bids, but more buys at realistic prices.
Most teams seem to have the core of their players fixed and are in need of specialists to either give them that extra edge or add greater depth.
A key factor in this year’s IPL auction will be that most South African and English players will leave in the first week of May for their bilateral series in England before the ICC Champions Trophy.
So, while some of the teams would want to cash-in on big names from both nations, they will have to make provisions for the void that these names will leave once they exit for international duties.
DELHI DAREDEVILS [DD]
Always known as shoppers who spend so much for so little reward at every auction, Delhi Daredevils put up a spirited performance in the previous season under the guidance of Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan.
They have let go of seven players from their squad, ranging from the surprising in Imran Tahir to the less so in Pawan Negi.
In hindsight, releasing Tahir seems like a smart move from DD as South African players won’t be available for the business end of the tournament. They are now looking for overseas replacements for star all-rounder Chris Morris and wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock who will both (along with JP Duminy) leave midway through the season.
Delhi should also ideally look for someone with a little more experience in the middle-order which at the moment is full of youngsters.
GUJARAT LIONS [GL]
The Lions had a prolific debut season where they topped the table during the league stage, but eventually ended up losing both their playoff games. The Lions released six players from their squad, which still looks pretty solid.
On almost all fronts, Gujarat’s squad looks quite balanced and ready to go. Their star all-rounder DJ Bravo did sustain an injury during the Big Bash League [BBL] and they might look for a backup.
Apart from that, they seem pretty sorted on most fronts and may only look to buy a couple of good spinners.
KING XI PUNJAB [KXIP]
Despite ending at the bottom of the table in the previous season, KXIP released only four players and retained 19 from the squad last year. While it might seem ludicrous on the face of it, the squad does pack some power on paper.
Of a few mandatory buys that KXIP should make this season, one is definitely an overseas fast bowler as they don’t have a single one in their entire squad at the moment.
On top of that, they should also be looking for an Indian spin bowling all-rounder who can lend the team some balance which they desperately crave.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS [KKR]
With one of the heaviest purses and leanest squads, KKR will go all guns blazing this auction.
They released Colin Munro, lost Andre Russell because of a doping violation and are left with just Shakib Al Hasan and Chris Lynn as their only two overseas batsmen.
Expect KKR to change all that, add a fast bowler and also a replacement for Russell (Ben Stokes maybe?).
MUMBAI INDIANS [MI]
Mumbai Indians has a solid core that they dislike experimenting with, regardless of the little match-experience that their players might have had in the recent past.
Despite releasing eight players, they have a squad of 20, most of whom are domestic players, which allows them to juggle from the talent pool they have developed over the years.
Mumbai will surely look for an opening batsman who can give them much needed firepower up top. This would preferably be an overseas batsman since they only have Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler and Lendl Simmons as foreign players in their squad and Jos Buttler leaving early.
Mumbai will also look at all-rounders, preferably of the fast bowling type who can cover for Pollard and also their main quicks as Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga are making comebacks from injury.
RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS [RPS]
Not much clicked for them in the last season where they looked quite at sea against most of the opponents and led to them releasing the maximum number of players from their squad – 11.
Since then, they brought in hard-hitting batsman Mayank Agarwal from the Delhi Daredevils.
Out the exit door are six fast bowlers, so they are definitely on the lookout for pacers, both Indian and overseas. They are also looking at cover for their overseas players.
With Murugan Ashwin off their roster, they will also be looking for another spinner [preferably Indian] to strengthen them on that front. A spin-bowling all-rounder would solve their purpose better, though.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE [RCB]
The best batting unit in the tournament, with a skipper in Virat Kohli who can on his day [which occur 365 times a year at the moment] win you games all on his own.
RCB are essentially thinking bowlers, bowlers and more bowlers. Last year, they couldn’t capitalise on Mitchell Starc owing to an injury, and without a spearhead, their bowling looked haywire. Despite releasing ten players, they still have a squad of 20.
The Bengaluru-based franchise also have another conundrum to fight, with eight foreign players in their squad already, they can only buy one more.
With an assorted buffet of some amazing talents including the likes of Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes, and Tymal Mills, it’d be tough for them to zero in on one and go all out.
SUNRISERS HYDERABAD [SRH]
The defending champions and the best bowling unit in the tournament, SunRisers has one department sorted for them, while the other pose questions. They were, by far, a pretty lackadaisical batting outfit in the previous season.
They have released some big names from their squad including England limited overs skipper Eoin Morgan, New Zealand pacer Trent Boult and Indian leg-spinner Karn Sharma.
As a result, they are on the lookout for an overseas batsman and a fast bowler. Unlike other teams, SRH should also ideally look for a spinner.
The Indian Premier League [IPL] auction in the past has thrown up a lot of surprises. Some big players have gone unsold while unknown cricketers have found stardom after fetching huge money at the auction.
Players like KC Cariappa and M Ashwin, over the last two editions of the league, were bought at high prices which caught fans by surprise.
This time, again, it is expected to be no different as the franchises will surely have done plenty of research on Indian domestic cricketers.
Here, we look at five uncapped Indian players who could go for a fortune in the 2017 IPL auction.
Tamil Nadu haven’t been known to produce a lot of fast bowlers over the years, but that trend might be changing now. T Natarajan is among the crop of quicks who led Tamil Nadu to the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy in 2016/17.
Natarajan made his name in the Tamil Nadu Premier League in 2016, taking 10 wickets. With his yorkers and variations in the death overs, expect a few teams to be interested in his services.
It’s not easy for a bowler to break into the Karnataka team, with the state boasting a strong bowling unit. K Gowtham, though, took his opportunity with both hands this season and became one of the key components of his state team in the Ranji Trophy.
What makes Gowtham a valuable asset is that apart from his off-spin, he is also a handy batsman. He may have a low batting average in T20 cricket but his strike-rate of 166.66 is really impressive.
Although he has led Mumbai to the Ranji Trophy title, Aditya Tare’s most famous moment came when he hit a six off James Faulkner to guide Mumbai Indians into the IPL playoffs against Rajasthan Royals in 2014.
Tare was with the SunRisers Hyderabad last season, but didn’t play a big part in their title-winning campaign and was subsequently released. As a wicket-keeper, who is very good with the bat in hand, expect there to be some demand for the Mumbai Ranji captain.
There are not many good T20 Indian fast bowlers available in the auction and that should open the door for Mohammed Siraj. The 22-year-old averages 17.18 with an economy rate of 7.05 from 10 T20 matches.
He was very impressive in the recently concluded inter-state zonal T20 tournament which would have surely caught the eye of the franchises.
Prithvi Shaw made the news in 2013 when, as a 14-year-old, he slammed 546 runs from 330 balls in a Harris Shield match, which was an Indian record in school cricket back then.
At the age of 17, Shaw made his first-class debut earlier this year in the Ranji Trophy and struck a century in his first game. He is also an integral part of the Indian U-19 team at the moment.
Prithvi Shaw most talented 17-yr-old since @sachin_rt. Has scored 239 in 4 innings for Mumbai in Ranji debut. Will play for India soon— Minhaz Merchant (@MinhazMerchant) January 13, 2017