Lucknow, December 8: Once the IPL 2022 mega auction starts, the shopping of the new franchise based in Lucknow will be under a lot of focus. They might have already zeroed in on a couple of players to pick from the released players pool.
But the whole squad building will happen in the IPL auction and they have plenty of options in all price ranges in the pool.
Here we are looking at the possible squad of Lucknow team that will have its base in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee stadium.
KL Rahul (captain, wicketkeeper): Even before the franchises announced their released and retained players list, Rahul has been linked with this new team. Rahul will be definitely a great pick for the Lucknow team as he has been in good form, evolving into a very good player and a mature captain. Even when Punjab Kings hit a trough in IPL 2021, he led them without losing the composure. Of course, he can also don the wicketkeeping gloves, adding good dose of flexibility to the playing 11.
Shikhar Dhawan: Dhawan was Delhi’s capital’s highest run-getter in the season, making 587 runs with three fifties but they chose to retain his partner Prithvi Shaw. Perhaps, it was a call taken considering the long-term option Shaw provides. But a team like Lucknow could do well to add someone like Dhawan at the top order, who has oodles of experience. Yes, it gives that priceless left-right option at the pole position too.
No 3: Manish Pandey: Manish was let go by the Sunrisers Hyderabad side but he remains a very good T20 player and comes with a dollops of experience in IPL. After all he is the first India batsman to notch up a hundred in the event. Leading Karnataka seemed to have bolstered his confidence and attitude and at No 3 Manish gives a team a solid presence.
No 4: Nitish Rana: Rana is an experienced IPL campaigner who has had some good moments with the Kolkata Knight Riders. Even in IPL 2021, he was their third highest run-getter with 383 runs with two fifties. He packs a punch and can control the middle-order with maturity.
No 5: Shimron Hetmyer: Just don’t get fooled by that 242 runs in 14 matches for Delhi Capitals. The West Indian left-hander made those runs at a stunning strike-rate of 168. His knocks deep down the order, he often came at No 6, made the difference between a middling total and a healthy one for DC. He can explode without warning and Hetmyer can further flourish if he has given some more stability in the batting order.
No 6: Shahrukh Khan: The Tamil Nadu batsman had made a good impression with the Punjab Kings with his ability to clear boundaries at will. The last ball six he made against Karnataka in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy only might have increased his value going into the auction. But Lucknow can add bit of a firepower down the order through the young SRK.
No 7: Chris Jordan: Despite that 18th over horror against New Zealand in the T20 World Cup 2021, the England pacer remains a good T20 option. He has good variations, a deceptive bouncer and can occasionally ramp up the pace. Jordan also is a handy batter down the order.
No 8: Rashid Khan: Like KL Rahul, Rashid’s name has also been linked to the Lucknow franchise. There is no other cricketer who is in more demand in T20 cricket than this Afghan. As a bowler, Rashid’s variations are endless and can contribute handy runs down the order. He is a smart fielder on the out field too. The Lucknow team will have to shell out a fortune to acquire his services but it will be worth every penny of it.
No 9: Harshal Patel: The Royal Challengers Bangalore did not retain the Purple Cap winner of IPL 2021. Harshal subsequently also made his India debut and now will be a hotly pursued commodity in the IPL auction. Lucknow will have to ace a good set of competitors to get this slow ball specialist.
No 10: Kagiso Rabada: Rabada was let go by the Delhi Capitals after a below par season. His South African teammate Anrich Nortje was retained by the DC after a commendable performance in the IPL 2021. A change of den could infuse fresh energy into Rabada, who is still among the best contemporary bowlers. If Rabada can find his blistering Yorkers then the opposition will have a lot to worry about.
11. Yuzvendra Chahal: The leg-spinner was off-loaded by Royal Challengers Bangalore after a few seasons, which have been largely successful, with them. He actually had a good IPL 2021 too, taking 18 wickets from 15 matches at an economy rate of 7. Chahal could still be lethal in T20 cricket and he can take wickets too at any stage of the game. He will be a worthy addition to the Lucknow squad, a proven performer.