Bidding for Jofra Archer at the IPL 2022 Auction will be nothing short of a gambit. Although he's one of the premier T20 fast bowlers going around, the 26-year-old's struggles with injuries will certainly see his stakes plummet as the auction date nears.
In such a situation, although most franchises will want to associate with him for the next three years, the ones who'll go for him will need to have a certain risk appetite. Below is a list of the three franchises made after considering this factor, recent trends, and the franchise's home conditions, among others.
#1 Mumbai Indians
14 wickets in T20Is at an average of 26.5, 46 in the IPL at 21.33, with an economy rate of 7.13. These aren't rookie numbers and will tempt even the most pragmatic of sides to take a punt. For Mumbai Indians (MI), this could even be a jackpot.
The five-time champions struggled with their bowling attack last season, which saw them disappointingly miss out on a top-four spot. Jasprit Bumrah looked overburdened, Trent Boult looked at the sea and everyone else hardly chipped in.
Getting Archer for a correct price at the auction will add another aggressive dimension to Rohit Sharma's bowling arsenal. It will also allow him to use Bumrah better, given the death-overs cushion that Archer provides. Not to mention the bounce and pace of the Wankhade wicket will favor the England pacer brilliantly.
And even if Archer has to head back midway or miss out due to injury, MI, in all probability, will still have a backup pacer waiting in the wings. It's a risk but one that's worth taking if one can have Bumrah and Archer breaking toes together.
#2 Kolkata Knight Riders
All four of Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) retentions can give them a complete quota of four overs on their day. All they need now is an express quick, and signing Archer could be the way to go. The right-armer will provide overs in the powerplay as well as the death, while the rest can rotate around him.
KKR solved their death overs issue in the second half of IPL 2021 and Archer will carry that forward while also providing some batting meat in the lower order. Although they have Andre Russell as a death-over backup for Archer, the West Indian is injury prone too, meaning KKR will need to sign another pacer at the auction.
The two-time winners will likely try to get Lockie Ferguson back, but he won't come in as cheap as last time. If they can get one of Ferguson, Pat Cummins or even a good Indian pacer back at a manageable cost, Archer won't be a bad shout because, like the Wankhade, Eden Gardens will also be a happy hunting ground for his 145 kmph bullets.
#3 Punjab Kings
Most teams (apart from the upcoming two franchises) might not be too keen to sign Archer because either their home conditions aren't too amicable for high-pace bowling or they won't have that much money left to splurge. Archer's erstwhile franchise Rajasthan Royals will also likely stay away from bringing him in.
If KKR and MI fail to sign him, Archer will likely be targeted by Punjab Kings (PBKS). With the highest remaining purse of ₹72 crore, a team in desperate need of a seasoned strike bowler, and owners with perhaps a "nothing to lose" mindset should be among the best ingredients for getting someone like Archer on board.