The Indian Premier League (IPL) is back in news again as the biggest names in the cricketing world will go under the hammer when the auction takes place at the ITC Gardenia in Bangalore on 12 and 13 February.
The 2014 edition of the IPL will see only eight teams taking part after Pune Warriors were terminated from the T20 competition. The team owned by Sahara Adventure Sports were unable to submit bank guarantee of the Pune franchise, resulting in the termination of their contract by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
With new set of rules released by the IPL Governing council for the player auction and the number of players being retained, this edition of the shorter format of the game will see the uncapped players given more opportunity to shine in order to make it to the national squad.
Every team will have seven Indian players (both capped and uncapped) and can have a maximum of four foreign players in the starting lineup. The latest change would see them have only nine overseas players in the squad, out of which only four will be on the field.
The auction is set to take place on two days, Wednesday and Thursday, and the uncapped players will also go under the hammer this year. A team will be given a budget of Rupees 600m (£5.86m, $9.64m, €7.09).
Defending champions Mumbai Indians, last season's finalists Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have retained five of their top players from the previous campaign.
The Chennai team have retained four capped Indian players, which includes MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina. Dwayne Bravo is the only overseas player retained out of the five they had last season.
Former Indian maestro Sachin Tendulakar and Australia's Ricky Ponting had retired from domestic T20 cricket after the end of last season. After seeing two of their star players leave, Mumbai have decided to retain Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh.
The Royals also saw their skipper Rahul Dravid end his IPL career. Rajasthan have got hold of Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson. Royal Challengers Bangalore have kept AB De Villiers, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli.
Kolkata Knight Riders (Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine), Kings XI Punjab (David Miller and Manan Vohra) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn) have kept hold of two each of their key players from the last season. Delhi Daredevils have decided not to retain any of their players.
Big draw Kevin Pietersen
As many as 219 capped players (169 Indians and 50 overseas players) will go under the hammer on Wednesday and Thursday. IBTimes UK will take a look at the biggest names in world cricket that could join the IPL franchises in the upcoming auction.
Kevin Pietersen, who retired from international cricket following his elimination from England team, is the biggest draw among players at this IPL auction.
The English star player is set to be the target of a bidding war between the franchises after finishing his terms with Royal Challengers and the Daredevils in the last few seasons.
Chennai, Rajasthan and Mumbai already have retained their middle order star players. A move for the Englishman to his former employers Bangalore and Delhi, or his addition to the Knight Riders, could be a possibility. Kings XI and the Knight Riders could join the host of franchises in bidding for the player. Pietersen's reserve price is Rupees 20m.
The reigning champions have decided to retain Malinga over Mitchell Johnson for the seventh addition of the IPL. The Australian will go under the hammer and is likely to be sold on the first day of the two-day auction.
Mumbai are likely to use "Right to Match" (RTM) and try to bring back Johnson for this season. However, they should pay the final bid amount in order to bring back the pacer. The Challengers could try to lure him as they will look to strengthen their bowling attack, which has been a weak link in their squad in the past few seasons.
Should Johnson join the Hyderabad side, his addition along with Steyn's will see them become one of the most fierce bowling attacks in the seventh season of the IPL.
Virender Sehwag and David Warner have been back in the list of players available for auction after Delhi decided not to retain either of the players. The Daredevils could try using RTM in bringing back Sehwag.
Warner could be set for a bidding war and should he join RCB, the Australian and Gayle could torment the opposition bowlers, along with Kohli and AB.
Michael Hussey, Yuvraj Singh, Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan are some of the biggest names who could also be sold on the first day of the auction. The franchises will be looking to sign Indian players as that will give them more options during team selection.
Along with the biggest names from the world of cricket, a lot of franchises are likely to sign in talented uncapped players. These signings could give the teams the much needed depth in the squad.
After the completion of the auction, certain teams could likely emerge as favourites to win the 2014 IPL. However, just a strong lineup on paper does not necessarily win them the title. The performance on the pitch will be the sole factor that decides who lifts the seventh-edition trophy.