The Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction is slated for February 18 in Chennai. Pacers K M Asif (Chennai Super Kings), Basil Thampi (Surnrisers Hyderabad) and Sandeep Warrier (Kolkata Knight Riders) as well as Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson are the Kerala players who have been retained by the IPL franchises.
Onmanorama takes a look at a few Kerala players who have the potential to make the cut in the auction.
The opener became an overnight hero after his stunning 54-ball unbeaten 137 which crushed Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Twenty20 Championship. The 26-year-old brought up his hundred off just 37 balls at the Wankhede Stadium. Azahrudeen is a free-flowing batsman and could make the most of the Powerplay. The Kasaragod player can also don the wicketkeeper's gloves.
Royals, with Sanju at the helm, will be tempted to rope in the strokeplayer, especially after trading veteran opener Robin Uthappa to CSK. However, other teams too will be keen on signing 'Junior Azhar'.
Vishnu Vinod is a perfect T20 player - he can open the innings, play in the middle order, and do the wicketkeeper's job.
The 27-year-old is an explosive batsman and can change the complexion of the game in no time as Delhi found out in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The right-hander's unbeaten 71 off 38 balls went a long way in Kerala chasing down a target of 213.
Vishnu has played for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the past.
The outstation professional has been Kerala's most consistent performer for the past few seasons. In fact with a bit of luck, the Madhay Pradesh all-rounder could have easily played for India in Test cricket at least on home soil.
Saxena was the pick of the Kerala bowlers in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He scalped 10 with his off-spinners at an impressive economy rate of 6.26. Though he was part of Mumbai Indians, RCB and Delhi Capitals squads in the past, Saxena has not played a single IPL game. At 34, time is fast running out for the domestic stalwart and he will be keeping his fingers crossed.
The southpaw is not new to the IPL as he was part of the RCB team which went down to Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2016 IPL final. He has also been part of the Royals and SRH squads. The former Kerala captain is a busy player.
Sachin can rotate the strike and play the big shots when required. He is a live wire on the field. Sachin has loads of experience and at 32, he will be hoping to be part of the glamour world of IPL once more.