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Top 10 Prospects in the IPL Season 5 Auction

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The fifth edition of the glamorous Indian Premier League is set to get underway in April with its usual glitz and glow; but before that drawing eyeballs will be the IPL Auction on 4th February. The disqualification of Kochi Tuskers has thrown all of its players in the market again, and the other nine teams will be shelling out their dollars chosing from amongst 144 players who will be going under the hammer.

The teams have been permitted to increase their squads from 30 to 33 players, with an additional spot also thrown open for foreigners giving teams more reason to loosen their purse strings in the auction.

After examining the open slots available with each team, and their need for talent, here's a look at what we think might be the top ten deals that will be making news come Saturday:

Ravindra Jadeja: Apart from being a brilliant bowling option in the limited overs format and a very handy lower middle order batsman, the fact that each team can field only four foreign players makes this left hander the most sought after player in the upcoming auction. Jadeja, who was in the Kochi Tuskers' squad last season, has a base price of USD 100000 but can see his eventual price shoot up very steeply as atleast five teams will be after him. Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab had a poor last season and they could do very well with a utility player like Jadeja in their ranks. Last season semi finalist Kolkata Knight Riders, who have a similar player in Shakib Al Hasan, might show interest as it will allow them to play another foreign player instead of Shakib, while Mumbai Indians and Royal Challenger Bangalore will also look to grab him to reduce their over dependence on Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard respectively. Expect Jadeja to hit top dollar, and a silent auction could well determine his fate. 

R Vinay Kumar: The Karnataka pacer, who is the only active Indian pacer in the international circuit in the auction list, was taken apart on his debut test by David Warner, but on slower home tracks his medium pacers will be quite a handful. Like Jadeja, he too starts with a base price of USD 100000 and a lack of options will see a slug fest among the team owners to get him during the auction. Teams like Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab are a bit thin as far as domestic fast bowlers are concerned and they will be keen on the right arm medium pacer.

Rudra Pratap Singh: RP Singh is now considered one of the many Indian bowlers who started with a bang but also fizzled out at an alarming rate . His performance in the fourth and final test at The Oval on the disastrous English tour, where he was picked out of nowhere, was anything but inspiring. But his knack of picking wickets in the shortest version, which makes him the most successful bowler in IPL history with 52 scalps, and a base price of USD 200000 makes him a good buy. The leftarmer is still quite adept at swinging the new ball and providing early scalps, which will be vital to grab the early momentum. Again Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab will the front runners to bid for the Uttar Pradesh bowler as his presence will lend some experience and variety to the attack. 

Mahela Jayawardene: The classy Lankan skipper, who took over the reigns of Kochi Tuskers last season, with a base price of USD 300000 is expected to be the most sought after foreign player during the auction. Along with a wealth of experience, his ability to bat at any position according to the situation of the match with grace and elan makes him indispensable in the twenty20 arena. Delhi Daredevils, Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals had problems with their batting in the last season and the three of them will be looking at Jayawardene to boost their lineup. Kings XI Punjab, for whom Jayawardene played in the first three seasons, also have a bit of inexperience in their ranks and they will be the dark horses in the race to get the wristy Lankan. The only concern with Mahela will be over his availability due to Lankan committments in and around the IPL. Despite that, teams will look to use him even for 3-4 weeks if they can. 

Muttiah Muralitharan: The magician from Sri Lanka, who was made to warm the bench for most of the last season in Kochi to get the proper balance in the team, will again be in the fray and it seems his former employers Chennai Super Kings are keen to get him in their lineup again. With R Ashwin as the frontline spinner, the current IPL champions struggled to get another spinner to partner him on the slow and low Chepauk track and have shown signs to buy Murali by releasing New Zealand pacer Tim Southee, which enables them to accommodate two more foreign players. The highest test wicket taker, who has retired from the game at the international level, will be available for the whole season and his base price of USD 200000 might soar up if teams like Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians show any inclination towards getting him as the second spinner in the squad. 

Tim Southee: The New Zealand right armer has been released from the Chennai Super Kings after just one season but he will again be a very hot property in the market. Apart from his spell with the new ball, his ability to strike big with the bat towards the end of the innings makes him a crucial link in any team. Starting with a relatively low base price of USD 100000, he will catch the eyes of a few teams like Kings XI Punjab, Deccan Chargers and Rajasthan Royals.

Vernon Philander: The South African fast bowler has made a sensational start to his test career and has been making the right noises with the ball. He is also no mug with the bat and has scored some useful late runs in South African domestic cricket. The only thing that might be a blocker in his road to a plump contract would be his inexperience of playing in the subcontinent. Starting with a base price of USD 200000, he is expected to draw bids from teams like Kings XI Punjab, Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals.

 Lonwabo Tsotsobe: Giving Philander competition will be fellow national fast bowler Tsotsobe. The left arm pacer scores over his South African mate in the energy and effort which he brings into the game, which would be crucial in slow Indian conditions. Also giving him the edge is the fact that he has been a regular feature in the South African limited overs scheme of things. Starting at a low USD 50000 base price, he will be attracting a lot of team owners initially but if the stakes go very high, it might come down to the team with more money in the bank.

Parthiv Patel: The spunky left hander enhanced his reputation with a string of decent scores in the few ODIs he played last year as an opener for India. Along with his ability to face the new ball, his added skill of being a wicket keeper gives him a good chance of picking up a good deal. While teams like Deccan Chargers and Royal Challenger Bangalore have just one keeper in their squad (Kumar Sangakarra and AB de Villiers respectively), Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals have been forced to do with makeshift wicketkeepers. Such competition for a Indian wicketkeeper is bound to send Patel's base price of USD 200000 upwards. 

Brendon McCullum: The hard hitting Kiwi wicket keeper batsman, who had set the Chinnaswamy stadium on fire on the inaugural day of IPL – 1, will also be one to look out for. With his big hitting abilities, he is good enough to play as a batsman only but his keeping skills and experience as a captain of Kolkata Knight Riders will come as a bonus to the team buying him. By the looks of it Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals emerge as the front runners to buy him while Deccan Chargers might also come into the fray given Sangakkara's possible unavailability for the entire series.