Afghanistan have made steady progress in the cricketing circuit over the years owing to some stellar individual and team performances in ICC events. Known to add colour and flavor to marquee tournaments owing to some exciting talents in their ranks, it would be interesting to see if the IPL franchises would want to add utility players from the pool of Associate nations at a formidable price.
AsgharStanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, DawlatZadran and Rashid Khan are the ones who have made themselves available for this year’s auction. Wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad and leg-spinner Rashid have the highest base prices among the five at INR 50 lakh.
29-year old wicketkeeper batsman Shahzadidolises former India captainMahendra Singh Dhoni. So much so that he has modeled his batting on Dhoni's style and has even hit a few helicopter shots that made the headlines drawing comparisons to MS Dhoni’s book of batting. Shahzad has the reputation of a healthy strike-rate that could well be the need of the hour to get the team going in the powerplays. He is currently ranked seventh in the ICC T20 rankings.
Next up, AsgharStanikzai, the current captain of the Afghanistan cricket team has been around the international circuit for some time now. The experienced campaigner can sneak in a couple of overs of medium pace and add some valuable runs in the middle-order. He has scored 806 runs in 43 T20Is with a strike rate of 106.61 and a career-best of 62, which came against Sri Lanka in the World T20 last year.With a base price of Rs 20 lakh, he could provide a very reliable and a bargain back up in the middle order for teams that are lacking the same.
Mohammad Nabi like Stanikzai is immensely experienced. Over the years, he has been one of Afghanistan's most reliable performers. The 32-year old bowls off-breaks and is a steady lower-order batsman. His off-breaks might not be lethal but he does have the ability to keep it tight and not give away freebies. He is currently ranked fourth in the ICC all-rounders ranking in T20s.
Pacer Dawlat Zadran was clocked at 145.3kph during the Asia Cup in 2014, and provides the sort of pace rarely seen in Associate sides. He was Afghanistan's spearhead at their successful World T20 qualifying campaign in 2011-12, and represented the team at both the 2012 and 2014 tournaments. Dawlat's ability to swing the ball at decent pace makes him a very good option for many teams who need fast bowlers. It is said that he resembles Pakistan bowling legend WaqarYounis in the way he bowls and he is more or less a regular in the national team.
Leg spinner Rashid Khan is a leg-spinner who entered the top five in the ICC rankings for T20I bowlers this year. Currently ranked fifth, Khan has the ability to pick up wickets without giving away too many. He could be a genuine option for teams who have only one genuine spinner in their ranks and are searching for an ideal spin partner for their lead spinner.
And finally, UAE’s promising young 21-year old batsman ChiragSuri is the only player from UAE in the IPL Auction list. An opening batsman, Suri has been scoring consistently in domestic tournaments and winning best batsman awards in inter-collegiate tournaments in UAE. He has played many match-wining knocks for Heriot Watt University. Will the teams vie for these names and spring out surprises to make these additions to their list? Only time will tell.