What’s the story?
The 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction will see as many as five Afghanistan players going under the hammer. Apart from the belligerent Mohammad Shahzad, the likes of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran and Najibullah Zadran all find a place in the list of cricketers who are up for grabs.
A sum total of 799 players have given their names for the keenly awaited auction. However, the roster will be reduced substantially once the franchises submit their choices to the relevant authorities before the deadline closes this weekend.
While there are 160 capped cricketers from eight countries (excluding Pakistan and Bangladesh) in the roster, the remaining 639 names will be from India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Afghanistan lead the Associate teams in terms of number of entries. Two players from Ireland will be in the auction even as United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Netherlands have one name each.
After being initially scheduled to be held on the 4th of this month, the auction was pushed back to the 20th due to the Indian Supreme Court’s delay in appointing the panel of administrators to run the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The heart of the matter
Shahzad is an attacking wicket-keeper batsman who has modelled his game on Indian icon MS Dhoni. An opener capable of giving explosive starts, the stocky 29-year old could be one of those highly sought after players in the auction. He is currently the seventh ranked batsman in international T20s.
Nabi’s versatile skill set should also attract quite a few bidders. The 31-year old led Afghanistan in the recent past and has been a rock-like presence in the middle-order. Capable of delivering handy off-spin, he is the ranked fourth among T20I all-rounders.
All of 18 years, Rashid Khan is a promising leg-spinner who has already entered the top five in the ICC rankings for T20I bowlers. From 21 T20Is, he has picked up 31 wickets at an economy rate of 6.14.
Dawlat Zadran’s not-so-high base price and extra pace might tilt the scales in his favour. On the other hand, Najibullah Zadran is a powerful left-hander who came through the U-19 ranks.
According to recent proposals from ICC’s Chief Executives Committee (CEC), Afghanistan stand a solid chance of gaining Test status quite soon. If some of their star players are picked up by IPL franchises, they could gain considerable exposure by rubbing shoulders with leading names from across the globe. The auction will be broadcast live on Sony Six from Ritz Carlton in Bengaluru starting from 9 AM.
Afghanistan’s players showcased their skills in the World T20 by defeating eventual champions West Indies in their last Super 10 game. In fact, they possess the best win-loss ratio (1.894) among all teams in the shortest format. Considering their availability and lower base prices, players like Shahzad and Nabi should make for valuable additions to any franchise.
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