The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a platform considered as cricket's biggest extravaganza, as some of the best in the business battle it out for supremacy through thick and thin. The IPL has further witnessed some of the most fierce rivalries amongst the franchises, with the fans cheering them on for glory. One such rivalry is that shared between the Mumbai Indians (MI) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). The two sides who have been extremely successful in the tournament over the years, share an intense relationship with their contests awaited with bated breath. This rivalry is set to extend to the auction table, as the two franchises look to strengthen their squad in all departments which might very well result in a bidding war between them:
1) Jason Roy
The 29-year-old English opener is considered one of the best in the shortest format of the game. Roy who is equally effective against spinners and pacers alike and enjoys an ability to get the team off to a flying start, was hailed by one and all for his sublime performances in the ICC World Cup 2019 alongside Jonny Bairstow. Who can forget his majestic performance against the Indian team in the group stages of the tournament, when England were desperate for a win in order to reach the knockouts. The Englishman was unavailable for the 2019 season, but is back in the auction for this edition which will certainly grab the attention of the franchises. The Kolkata Knight Riders have recently released opener Chris Lynn with talks of Sunil Narine not being persisted with as an opener, due to inconsistent performances. This might very well result in the franchise going all out for Roy in order to ensure a mix of aggression and steady gameplay opposite Shubman Gill.
The Mumbai Indians on the other hand, are on the hunt for a reliable opener having released Windies cricketer Evin Lewis after a lackluster performance last season. Jason Roy will certainly be a grab for the franchise alongside Rohit Sharma who is usually cautious in the opening overs. With an exceptional strike rate of 145.12 in T20 Internationals and 133.58 in the IPL, Roy is a must-have for both the franchises.
2) Tom Banton
The English wicketkeeper batsman has been hailed as one to watch out for, with his sublime performance in the recently concluded edition of the T10 league, where he smashed 162 runs in five games at a strike rate of 200. Banton's ability to catch the opposition by surprise with his unorthodox gameplay, skill and talent was further on show after he smashed 80 runs off 28 deliveries against the Karnataka Tuskers during the course of the tournament. Not only this, the cricketer was also the second highest run-scorer in the T20 Blast 2019, smashing 549 runs in 13 matches at a strike rate of 161 and average of 42. Banton who is mentored by former England opener Marcus Trescothick, has drawn interest from the Mumbai Indians as per reports.
Not only this, he has further publicly expressed his desire to represent the franchise. The Englishman will certainly be a fine addition at the top of the order. The Kolkata Knight Riders on the other hand, are on the lookout for an opener who can get them off to blazing starts in the absence of Chris Lynn. Banton's fearless gameplay could well make him a top prospect for the franchise.
3) Virat Singh
The 21-year-old cricketer has been in excellent form recently, with 343 runs scored scored in 10 innings at an average of 57.26 and a strike rate of 142.32 in the recently concluded edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Virat Singh, who hails from Jharkhand further enjoys the ability to smash the ball to all corners of the ground as well as build the innings as and when necessary, which is quite valuable in the shortest format of the game. The Kolkata Knight Riders have indicated a desire to spend big on quality domestic players capable of making their presence felt under pressure, in the previous editions of the IPL. Singh will certainly be of much interest to the franchise considering the inconsistency on show from Nitish Rana last season.
Rana performed exceptionally in the opening matches, before tailing off in the second half putting the other players under a lot of pressure. Singh can provide stern competition to Rana for a spot in the lineup, with his capabilities and talent. The Mumbai Indians on the other hand, have failed to get the best out of Ishan Kishan who has been reckless with his shots, displaying needless aggression. The franchise has further maintained a positive attitude towards talented domestic performers over the years, with the likes of Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah granted opportunities over overseas performers. Singh can certainly boost the batting department and go on to add some solidity to the batting department.
4) David Miller
The Proteas batsman needs no introduction having enthralled fans and critics alike, with his big-hitting over the years. Who can forget his awe-inspiring century against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for the Kings X1 Punjab (KXIP), in a game which seemed to be done and dusted at one stage. However, a poor campaign last season where he scored 213 runs in 10 matches, and the team management's decision to make massive changes has seen him being released for this year's auction. The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are extremely dependent on Andre Russell for the big-hits and lack players who can change the momentum of the innings in his absence. The middle order is further in need of a reliable middle-order batsman barring Dinesh Karthik, capable of keeping the innings ticking and changing gears when necessary. The Mumbai Indians on the other hand, have witnessed inconsistent performances from Windies all-rounder Kieron Pollard and will be wary of this costing them wins in crucial games. A batsman like David Miller who is a specialist middle-order batsman will perfectly complement the Pandya brothers, setting the stage for quick runs in the death overs. Miller is further an excellent fielder which makes him all the more attractive.
5) James Neesham
The Kiwi all-rounder has grabbed the limelight with his exceptional performances in the 2019 ICC World Cup, finishing as the nation's highest run-scorer and wicket-taker. Neesham will be a handy addition to the Kolkata Knight Riders, as a backup for Andre Russell who has been extremely injury-prone in recent times. The 29-year-old enjoys the ability to smash the ball to all parts of the ground while at the same time, pitch in four economical overs whenever necessary making him a good option.
Neesham will also be a good addition down the order in the absence of Piyush Chawla. The Mumbai Indians on the other hand, are in need of a backup option for Kieron Pollard, and Neesham can provide the perfect replacement in all departments. The 29-year-old further enjoys variations up his sleeve and is well-versed in Indian conditions, making him a reliable option for the upcoming auction. Neesham's batting average of 24.59, strike rate of 138.38 and bowling average of 25.57 make him all the more attractive.
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