It has some of the very big names but there is a feeling that Kochi, the Indian Premier League's newest entrant, is a bit short on the batting front after the IPL players' auction which ended in Bangalore on Sunday.

“The batting department is slightly weak. The team looks a bit imbalanced,” said former Kerala Ranji coach P. Balachandran. “The spin and medium pace departments look good but not the batting.

“If you look at almost all the Twenty20 matches in India, the last six overs have been very crucial, a lot of runs have come during this phase but the batsmen we have may not be sufficient to get those big runs. We do not have players like Yusuf Pathan or Pollard. Also, fielding could be a problem with three or four players.”

“The team looks decent, it doesn't have many big names on the batting side but it can be effective,” said K. Jayaraman, Kerala cricket's Chairman of Selectors.

“They have concentrated more on spinners. Of course, with players like Muttiah Muralitharan, Steven Smith, Ramesh Powar and Brad Hodge…they will be able to shuffle and play and with Vinay Kumar and England's Owais Shah coming in today, the medium-pace also looks reasonably good.”

“The batting looks okay…we have Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel and Mahela. And Laxman and Smith can also bat …Thisara Perera can very effective too. But we should have definitely gone for Yusuf Pathan,” said Jayaraman, also a former Kerala Ranji captain.

Natural choice

Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene is the natural choice for the captain's mantle, said Jayaraman and Balachandran.

“Since Laxman won't be playing all the matches, Mahela should be the captain. It all depends on how he gets his boys around,” said Jayaraman.

“Mahela is the natural choice and Laxman is a handy person, that is one reason why Sourav Ganguly went unsold in the auction,” said Balachandran.

“Kochi coach Geoff Lawson must have felt that it would have been difficult to handle a player like Ganguly.”

With nine foreigners, it will now be a big challenge for Lawson to see that the team settles down in the Kochi conditions.

“It's going to be very humid, very hot in Kochi and with the stadium packed to capacity and under floodlights, it is going to be very difficult,” said Jayaraman. “Lawson should see that the team settles down fast under the Kochi conditions.”

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