The IPL's Big Bazaar is back and the teams are ready to go shopping! 144 cricketers from 11 countries will go under the hammer in Bangalore today. And this time it is more about shopping smart than shopping in bulk.
Although the franchises have been allowed to spend an additional $2 million, and have their squad sizes increased from 30 to 33, no more than 30 players are likely to be bought, and that number could be closer to 20.
Unlike the last year, nine teams are taking part in the auction as Kochi team's contract was terminated later in 2011 due to breach of terms of agreement. That's why this IPL auction has become all the more important. More than half of Kochi players - VVS Laxman, Mahela Jayawardene, Ravindra Jadeja, Muttiah Muralitharan and Brendon McCullum - have been included in the auction, in which Jadeja is expected to be the biggest draw. (Read: Why is there another IPL auction?)
The story is not quite the same for S Sreesanth, one of the stars of the Kochi team, as he will not be a part of the IPL this time due to a toe injury. (Read: 10 facts about the IPL 5 auction)
The rest of the pool is made up of players who were undrafted last year and those who have decided to come forward this year e.g. Graeme Swann and Stuart McGill.
The BCCI has guaranteed that it will honour the contracts with the Tuskers and pay the players who are not signed by other teams. If a player is signed, the board says it will also make up any difference between the value of the player's new contract and his old one. However, those players that remain unsold will miss out on playing in the IPL.
Before buying a player, a franchise must take into account his availability. The IPL season overlaps with a number of international tours featuring England, Australia and West Indies, so franchises might chose to mix and match players who are available at different times. The likes of Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Ian Bell could draw interest because the England players are available in April but not in May, while the Australia players will join the IPL only after their tour of the West Indies ends on April 27.