Kerala batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen has been making waves in the domestic circuit and making heads turn with his fiery performances. The 26-year-old recently made history by scoring the third fastest century by an Indian in T20s when he scored a 37-ball ton against Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Since then, he has received plaudits and appreciation from cricketers and fans around India.
The right-handed batsman is also a wicket-keeper and opens the innings. Thanks to his abilities as well as the varied roles that he can play, Azharuddeen is expected to be a hot prospect in the auctions for the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which will be held in mid-February this year. These are the five teams who might have an eye on Azharuddeen and might go for him in the auctions.
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings are a side who will be looking to rebuild after a disastrous 2020 campaign by their standards. The MS Dhoni-led side missed out on the playoffs for the first time in their history and a plethora of changes are expected to take place in the team combination for the 2021 edition.
Azharuddeen’s addition could give CSK a handy opener who can complement the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis, in the absence of the retired Shane Watson.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Royal Challengers Bangalore had a decent season in 2020 as they finished fourth. However, there were still a few problems plaguing their side. One such problem was the absence of a reliable opener along with Devdutt Padikkal. The likes of Aaron Finch and Josh Philippe were tried out, but the Aussie pair disappointed.
Mohammed Azharuddeen’s addition here could give an explosive opening option along with Padikkal and a top 4 consisting of the duo followed by Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers could be fearsome. Going for an Indian opener could also allow the side to pick an overseas lower-order batsman or bowler.
Rajasthan Royals finished the 2020 campaign with the wooden spoon after failing to capitalize on a strong start to the tournament. Their batting line-up looked shaky almost throughout the tournament with frequent changes to the batting order. A plethora of players were tried out in different positions so much so that the team never had a settled line-up.
Azharuddeen’s presence in the side could allow Ben Stokes to move to the middle-order or the two could form a good opening pair as well for the side with the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Robin Uthappa as backup.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are a side that always find themselves in the reckoning to make the playoffs and win the IPL title. Their 2020 campaign was no different as they finished 3rd. They had consistent overseas players complemented by promising Indian stars who shone for the side. However, SRH’s wicket-keeping slot remains a question heading into the 2021 auction.
Jonny Bairstow was preferred initially but after Kane Williamson and Jason Holder were picked and started performing well, he was dropped and the likes of Wriddhiman Saha and Sreevats Goswami had to take over wicket-keeping duties. This is where the arrival of Azharuddeen could make for an explosive opening batsman along with David Warner as well as a solid wicket-keeper.
Delhi Capitals were one of the most consistent sides in the 2020 edition of the IPL as they finished as runners-up. Their bowling attack was extremely strong and reliable with a host of overseas talent. Their young batting line-up shouldered by Indian players came good as well. Their opening slot however, remained a cause for worry.
Prithvi Shaw was preferred initially but after he suffered from a rough patch, DC went with Marcus Stoinis to open the innings along with Shikhar Dhawan. Although the Australian came good in a few matches, he faltered when it mattered most in the final and also, DC would want the Aussie’s presence as a finisher. This could mean Azharuddeen would be a good pick to open the innings along with Dhawan in 2021.