After the completion of the second Test between India and England, the players’ auction of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 will take place in Chennai on Thursday (February 18).
All the eight franchises will participate in the bidding process. Unlike previous editions, it is going to be a mini-auction for the fourteenth season of the cash-rich league.
Like every year, teams will look for some specialist top-order batsmen who could give flying starts to their respective sides. One such player who might get a lot of attention in the upcoming auction is England’s attacking batsman Alex Hales.
Hales looks in supreme touch with the willow. He has performed remarkably well for Sydney Thunder in the ongoing 2020-21 edition of the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia. The 32-year-old has accumulated 543 runs from 15 matches at a prodigious strike-rate of 161.60.
Hales has also hit one century and three fifties in BBL 10. Considering his current form, the English cricketer could be a perfect buy for teams who might be looking for a solid top-order batsman in the upcoming bidding process.
Let’s have a look at four IPL teams which might target Hales in IPL 2021 auction:
1.) Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) did not have a good outing in the IPL 2020 at United Arab Emirates (UAE). For the sixth consecutive year, they missed booking a place in the playoffs.
Ahead of IPL 2021 auctions, KXIP had released players like Glenn Maxwell, Karun Nair, Hardus Viljoen, Jagadeesha Suchith, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Sheldon Cottrell, Jimmy Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Tajinder Singh.
Despite having players like KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal, the Mohali-based franchise needs a quality batsman at the top and Hales could be a perfect option. The English cricketer is in fine touch and can boost the batting department of KXIP.
2.) Rajasthan Royals (RR)
Rajasthan Royals (RR) finished IPL 2020 at the bottom in the points table. The team led by Steve Smith failed to live up to the expectations despite having some star players and top performers. Ahead of the upcoming auction, the Royals have released their skipper Smith and gave the responsibility of captaincy to Sanju Samson.
Apart from Smith, players like Ankit Rajpoot, Oshane Thomas, Akash Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Anirudha Joshi, and Shashank Singh have also been released. Since RR have traded Robin Uthappa to Chennai Super Kings (CSK), they now need a high-quality batsman in the top-order and Hales fits the scenario pretty well.
The Royals already have Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, David Miller, and Andrew Tye in the squad. Adding Hales to this equation will strengthen the team further.
3.) Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), missed out on the playoff spot last season due to the lesser net run-rate than Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The team had their ups and downs but did relatively well in the UAE.
Ahead of the IPL 2021 auction, KKR have released only five players and kept the core of their team unmoved. The two-time champions have released players like Manimaran Siddharth, Nikhil Naik, Siddhesh Lad, Chris Green, and Tom Banton.
Since KKR have released Banton, they will look for a quality top-order batsman, and Hales can fill the shoes nicely. However, KKR have retained Tim Seifert, who had a pretty good season in the ongoing Super Smash 2020-21 in New Zealand. But having an English captain in the form of Eoin Morgan, there is a possibility that KKR could go for Hales in IPL 2021.
4.) Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)
Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) is one of the most consistent sides in IPL, and they showed another fine performance in the previous season of the lucrative league. SRH finished IPL 2020 as the third team in the standings after facing a 17-run loss from Delhi Capitals (DC).
Ahead of the upcoming mini-auction, Sunrisers have released Sanjay Yadav, Bavanaka Sandeep, Billy Stanlake, Fabian Allen, and Yarra Prithviraj.
Sunrisers have Jonny Bairstow for the opening slot, and Hales could come in the side as his alternate. Hales’ inclusion could come handy for the Orange Army with players like David Warner, Kane Williamson around in the batting order.