The players’ auction of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 is just around the corner. On Thursday (February 18), all franchises will gather in Chennai to pick players in accordance with their requirements.
Ahead of the upcoming bidding process, teams had released many big fishes who were unable to perform in the previous edition of the cash-rich league. One of the big players who was released was Australian batting maestro Steve Smith.
Smith led Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the thirteenth season of the lucrative league but couldn’t perform with the bat and looked clueless as a leader as well. Smith amassed 311 runs from 14 games at an average of 25.91 with three fifties. Under his leadership, RR finished at the bottom in the points table in IPL 2020, winning only 6 of their 14 matches.
Ahead of the mini-auction, Smith has registered his name at a base price of INR 2 crores. He might not attract a lot of money, but given his international cricket credentials, Smith can not be ignored as well.
Let’s have a look at four such teams that can target Smith in IPL 2021 auction:
1.) Royal Challengers Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had a good outing in the previous edition of the exciting league held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). After three bad seasons, RCB had qualified for the playoffs in IPL. They finished the lucrative tournament as the 4th best team.
What RCB missed in IPL 2020 was a reliable middle-order batsman who could hold one end to form important partnerships, and Smith is a master of this art.
Since the ‘Team Red’ is quite largely dependent on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, so they need a world-class batsman in the middle and Smith can be a good option.
2.) Kings XI Punjab
Unlike RCB, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had a disappointing season in IPL last year. The KL Rahul-led side missed out to register a place in the playoffs for a sixth consecutive time.
Ahead of the IPL 2021 auction, KXIP have released several big players like Glenn Maxwell, Sheldon Cottrell, Mujeeb ur Rahman, James Neesham, and Karun Nair. The Mohali-based franchise have nine slots left, including five foreigners, and one of them could get fulfilled by Smith.
Apart from Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, no other batsman left an impact in IPL 2020 for Punjab. Though Chris Gayle did impress with the bat, but he missed quite a few games concerning fitness issues. If Smith comes to the squad of KXIP, he will boost the batting unit.
3.) Sunrisers Hyderabad
One of the most consistent sides in IPL, the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), showed another fine display of team performance in the lucrative league’s previous season. SRH finished IPL 2020 as the third-best team of the tournament.
Ahead of the upcoming mini-auction, Sunrisers have released Sanjay Yadav, Bavanaka Sandeep, Billy Stanlake, Fabian Allen, and Yarra Prithviraj.
The ‘Oranga Army’ have Kane Williamson for the middle-order slot, and Smith could come in the side as his alternate. In the presence of his Australian teammate and a friend David Warner, Smith could actually become very handy.
4.) Delhi Capitals
Delhi Capitals (DC) have had a wonderful outing in IPL 2020. They qualified for the finals and finished the tournament as the runners-up. Ahead of the IPL 2021 auction, DC have two overseas spots left, and they could take Smith in the side.
The Capitals have released overseas players like Alex Carey and Jason Roy – both are attacking batsmen. Since DC have firepower batsmen in the side already like Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan and Marcus Stoinis, they need a reliable stroke maker for the middle-order.
Smith can come in the side and fit perfectly. Since the former Aussie skipper has plenty of leadership experience, it would help young Shreyas Iyer, and eventually, the team will rise new heights.