The Indian Premier League has generated unprecedented interest and fanfare amongst cricket lovers ever since its inception three years ago.
After the end of the first three seasons, all the teams are now going to fight again to get the services of the best players in the business. A total of 350 players have been put into the auction pool with only 12 players being retained by the existing franchisees.
With two more new teams in the fray, the IPL auctions will be bigger and better if we may say so.
CricketNDTV.com takes a look at the top players who will be on the must buy list of many of these teams.
Was in the news last season for his famous drop out with the team owners after they decided to take away the captaincy from him.
Was below par in the last tournaments. Has been linked earlier to the Mumbai Indians.
His name was one of the biggest omissions amongst retained players list as KKR decided not to continue with him.
Although he has defied his critics by playing some brilliant knocks, 'Dada' might find it tough to get any buyers due to his advanced age and well known stubbornness.
Another big omission from the retained players' list, Gambhir captained Delhi after Sehwag stepped down last season.
The team's inability to make the semis for the first time might have gone against him. A genuine choice for a left-handed opening batsman.
The man who literally launched the Indian Premier League. His belligerent 158 not out for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first ever IPL match still remains the best knock played in the T20 League.
A must buy in this format.
The legendary Aussie wicket-keeper batsman was the man who changed the fortunes of the Deccan Chargers.
Leading the team to the title in the second edition in South Africa after finishing at the bottom in the inaugural event.
Gilly has been one of the top run makers in the tournament so far with 934 runs and continues to be a hugely inspirational player.
AB de Villiers
One of the most talented players in world cricket today. AB de Villiers may not have been at his devastating best for the Delhi Daredevils on a consistent basis, but his abilities with the bat and agility on the field makes him a must buy.
The premier speedster in the world today. Steyn's ability to swing the ball both ways at express pace makes him virtually unplayable on most occasions.
Yet to demonstrate his best in the IPL, Steyn will be a must buy for many teams looking to bolster their pace attack.
One of the first cricketers to give up on international cricket to concentrate on the big money T20 tournaments, Andrew Symonds continues to be one of the deadliest hitters of the ball. His all-round abilities played a big role in Deccan Chargers' change of fortune.
Kallis showed that age is no bar in the third edition of the IPL. Fighting tooth 'n' nail with Sachin Tendulkar for the 'Orange Cap', this South African all-rounder played many majestic knocks for the Bangalore side.
Is expected to generate considerable amount of interest amongst the buyers.
The former West Indies skipper has been a staunch supporter of T20 cricket. He has showed glimpses of his devastating best for the Kolkata Knight Riders, but just like his team, Gayle's form has been too inconsistent to create any real impression.
Bought at a record price by Bangalore Royal Challengers, the Englishman's stay was nothing to write home about.
He though remains one of the deadliest strikers of the ball in the game and will be a handful after a morale boosting Ashes win down under.
JP Duminy exploded on to the world scene with his gallant performances against Australia, but the diminutive Protean has lacked in consistency in the past one year.
Has been an asset for the Mumbai Indians but the coming of Keiron Pollard overshadowed him. Will look to ply his trade somewhere else now.
Dilshan is another player who did not perform to his potential for the Daredevils but his attacking instincts as an opener cannot be doubted.
His ability to play lower down the order makes him a flexible player.
Clubbed amongst the highest rated players for the IPL auction, Brian Lara is relatively new to this format.
His stint with the rebel ICL was nothing awe-inspiring and the past great will not find many takers.
Has been an enigma on the international scene, but Sharma's exploits with the bat in the second season helped Deccan Chargers win the title.
Will look to cement his place in the Indian side with a good performance in the IPL.
India's bowling spearhead has not been retained by the Mumbai Indians as Lasith Malinga has been a bigger asset with the ball for them.
Has also represented the Royal Challengers in the first season. A good showing in South Africa will help his cause.
The man who almost single-handedly took the Royals to title triumph in the first season. His butchering abilities tend to go a notch higher in the IPL.
Will be one of the most sought after players in the auction.
The magician is waiting for one last hurrah in international cricket with the 2011 ICC World Cup.
Has been one of the star bowlers for the Chennai Super Kings, picking up 25 wickets in 28 matches for them. Will be a prized catch.
Was considered to be one of the most talented youngsters few years back. But lack of consistency has cost him his place in the Indian squad and the Karnataka batsman is not even in the reckoning now.
Continues to be an explosive batsman and he will be looking to deliver the goods in the coming season to rekindle his career.
The Kiwi is a high quality player and he showed that with his match winning efforts for the Royal Challengers last season.
Should fetch a high price as quality middle-order batsmen are a rarity in this format.
The South African skipper was one of the pillars for the Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural season, when his exploits with the bat helped the team clinch the title.
Has not been able to produce the form of old in this format though.
Lead man with the ball for Delhi, Nehra's ability to bowl at the death and with consistent pace makes him a good choice for the lead bowler's role.
His partnership with another left-armer Nannes worked wonders for the Daredevils.
The paceman is trying to resurrect his limited overs career having retired from Test cricket and will be an asset for any team.
Although his figures for the King's XI Punjab do not speak much of his calibre. Another thing that remains to be seen is whether he can remain injury free.
Bollinger gave the Chennai Super Kings' bowling the cutting edge in the 2010 season and did well in their Champions League triumph as well.
Although a little out of sorts in the international scene, the left-armer is a definite wicket-taker up front.
Out of favour all-rounder Irfan Pathan will look to bounce back with a successful IPL tournament. Has been handy with both bat and ball for the King's XI, Irfan will be a value addition to any side.
The southpaw's ability to tear apart any attack will attract many buyers. His outfield catching is another asset in this form of the game. Delhi Daredevils might look to get him on board again.
Shakib Al Hasan
This man has topped the charts amongst all-rounders in the ICC list for sometime with his more than useful batting and bowling skills.
One of the lone bright spots in a hapless Bangladesh unit, Shakib will be a good buy for any team.
The left-arm spinner rose to the big league with his performances in the last two seasons of the IPL and is now regular in the Indian Test and ODI sides.
Ojha has proved to be a definite wicket-taker for the Deccan Chargers and his striking ability makes him a first choice spinner for most of the teams.
The medium pacer has been one of the most consistent bowlers in the shorter versions of the game for both India and the Royal Challengers.
Change of pace and accuracy are his biggest weapons and his ability to wield the willow lower down the order makes him an asset.
The mercurial pacer is back in the mix in the Indian side and has looked potent with his bowling in South Africa.
He too would like to move on from the ugly 'slapgate' and showcase his talents.
Rose to new heights during the ODI series against New Zealand where he performed with distinction. The youngster has managed to hold his own for the Chennai Super Kings even in the presence of Muttiah Muralitharan. Will be on the wishlist of many teams.
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|2||chennai super kings||14||9||5||18|
|4||kolkata knight riders||14||8||6||16|
|5||kings xi punjab||14||7||7||14|
|8||kochi tuskers kerala||14||6||8||12|
|9||pune warriors india||14||4||9||9|
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