This year's IPL auction warrants some surprises as there is quite an array of dark horses in the auction mix. Some of these players have proved themselves in the T20 format, while others are entering it for the first time. But all have attained a significant stature as cricketers and masters of their trade, attributes that will surely see them wrest some of the most glittering deals in the auction -
Shaun Marsh: He has earned a reputation of contributing substantiallly as well as at a blistering rate as the opening batsman of the Kings XI Punjab. In the IPL's inaugural year, he won the orange cap for the most runs scored in the League. Though he is coming off a forgetful season where his form was wishy-washy, it is likely he will be heavily bid for in the auction. He is one of the top run-getters in the T20 format with 1,429 under his belt with a glowing average of 42.02 and a decent strike rate of 132.07.
Graeme Swann - Oen of the most incisive off-spinners of today, Swann will undoubtedly figure as hot property in the IPL auction. Possessing the knack of picking wickets at crucial junctures in matches, he is valued as an indispensable member of the English team. Considering spinners usually have a prosperous time on Indian wickets, he could be a top contender for the purple cap. Swann has played 61 Twenty20s and has bowled at a very good average of 18.53 with an equally impressive economy rate of 6.66.
Rohit Sharma: Sharma was handed the best Under-23 player award in the second season of the IPL and he continued with his good work in the third season. He has proved himself to be one the most reliable middle-order batsmen in the Twenty20 format and stands out with his wristy stroke-play. Sharma performed well for the Deccan Charges in the first three seasons but was not retained by the franchsie for the fourth. Will their loss be someone else's gain? Sharma averages 32.91 with the bat, having accumulated nearly 2,000 run in the game's shortest format at a strike rate of 132.37.
Ross Taylor - One of the most dominating batsman in Twenty20s, this New Zealander has not been held back by the Royal Challengers Bangalore and will figure in the auction as one of the most sought-after players. He has a tendency of blitzing the opposition's bowling, a tendency highlighted by his 81 off 33 balls against the Kolkata Knightriders in a IPL2 match. Taylor has amassed 2,607 runs in Twenty20s at an average of 33.00 and an incredible strike rate of 149.56.
Brian Lara - Former West Indian batting great will be making a high-profile return to competitive cricket by playing in the League after his career has been on hiatus for about three years. It's certain that all the teams will be bidding for his stylish left-hander even though he is yet to demonstrate his ability in the Twenty20 format. So far, he has only played 3 T20 matches, averaging 33.00 with a strike-rate of 115.11.