While most franchises retained the core group that they formed way back in the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) mega-auctions, there were still some big-money exchanges in the 2020 auctions.
As teams looked to plug in gaps exposed in the previous season, prices for quick bowlers, finishers and all-rounders soared. With IPL 2020 being held in the UAE this year - something the auctions could not have accounted for - it remains to be seen which of these costly buys will make it count.
Some of the most expensive players in the league happen to be retained players - Virat Kohli, for example, sets Royal Challengers Bangalore back by no less than INR 17 crore. Rishabh Pant and MS Dhoni each cost their respective IPL teams INR 15 crore.
5 overseas players who will have to justify their price tag in IPL 2020
While retained players have the long-term faith of the team management, the pressure of the price tag often weighs down heavily on players trying to fit into new roles in a different franchise.
Here, we have a look at 5 players who have been picked up in the recent auctions for massive sums of money, and what would be expected of them.
#5 Pat Cummins (KKR, INR 15.5 crore)
Sitting pretty on top of the ICC Test Bowling Rankings, and within the top five ODI bowlers, is Australian pacer Pat Cummins. He is also the current vice-captain of Australia across formats.
Stirring up a veritable frenzy at the bidding table, Cummins was eventually picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders - who joined the bidding right at the end - for a record-breaking INR 15.5 crore.
While Cummins is a reputed, skilled bowler in the longer formats of the game, he is not ranked within the top ten bowlers in the T20 format. Even among Australian pacers, he is preceded in the rankings by Kane Richardson and Mitchell Starc. This means Cummins has yet to prove himself as a T20 great worthy of the steep price tag.
However, for a team like KKR, Cummins could be extremely valuable. In the 2019 IPL season, their lack of a pace bowling spearhead was painfully exposed as they crashed to six consecutive defeats, becoming the team that took the fewest wickets.
They would hence want Cummins to lead the bowling attack, as well as provide useful lower-order runs, on a consistent enough basis to justify their investment.
#4 Glenn Maxwell (KXIP, INR 10.75 crore)
It was in the year 2014 - coincidentally, the last time the IPL was held for some part in the UAE - that Glenn Maxwell struck form for the Kings XI Punjab, scoring heavily and quickly to power them to the finals. He emerged as the most valuable player of the tournament, scoring 552 runs, and has since then been a big buy in the IPL.
Since that year though, his form drastically tapered, with the next four seasons fetching merely 803 runs. Kings XI were unable to gain similar success even when he was tried as the captain of the franchise. In 2018, he plied his wares for the Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) where he endured another poor season, and was unable to live up to his INR 9 crore price tag.
In order to fulfil expectations, Maxwell will need to hold up Kings XI Punjab's middle order batting, an aspect that has sorely let them down in the past two seasons. He will have to share the load of run-scoring with KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, along with bowling off-spin whenever the team requires it.
What works in his favour is recent form - he scored a quickfire 77 against England in the ongoing ODI series, and occupies the #6 rank amongst T20 batsmen globally.
#3 Nathan Coulter-Nile (MI, INR 8 crore)
In the 2019 ICC World Cup, Nathan Coulter-Nile made headlines - not for taking wickets, but for a record-breaking 92 with the bat against the West Indies. He played just 5 matches for Australia in the tournament, and had a lean season with the ball.
As of now, he is not part of the national limited-overs squad in England, and hasn't played for Australia in a year. He also does not currently occupy the top 50 in the ICC bowling rankings in any format.
Apart from his successful season for KKR in 2017, where he took 15 wickets and was a part of the attack that famously bowled RCB out for just 49 runs, Coulter-Nile has not been a breakthrough success in the tournament. Additionally, he has been injury prone. This, along with other commitments in 2019, meant that he has not played an IPL game since 2017.
What, then, would Mumbai Indians look for from him? His bowling style of mixing in quick, full deliveries with lethal bouncers and cross-seamers, is likely to be useful even on spin-friendly wickets in the UAE.
#2 Chris Morris (RCB, INR 10 crore)
Chris Morris, the South African pace-bowling all-rounder, was part of a massive bidding war during the auctions before finally being sold to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for one of the highest sums of money in the auction. Why? He bowls quick, has a decent record at the death, and has an impressive T20 strike rate as well.
However, he has not played for the national team since 2019. In South Africa's T20 league held prior to the auctions, he had a poor show with both bat and ball. It also remains to be seen how effective he could be on UAE pitches that are not conducive to pace bowling.
For a team with an over-reliance on batting, however, the inclusion of Morris may help with their perennial death bowling woes. Given Dale Steyn's recurring fitness issues, it is likely that Morris gets several opportunities to play as an important part of the bowling attack for RCB in IPL 2020.
#1 Sheldon Cottrell (KXIP, INR 8.5 crore)
Since he burst onto the international scene in 2019 following a five-wicket haul in his first ODI after a break, Sheldon Cottrell has won over fans with his bowling performances, his athleticism and, most of all, with his trademark salute celebration. He took 12 wickets at the ICC World Cup 2019, and picked up a 4-for earlier in 2019. He is also ranked 11th among T20 bowlers worldwide.
However, recent form does not look the most encouraging, as Cottrell and his Caribbean Premier League franchise had a poor season. Furthermore, while Cottrell does have an energetic release as well as the left-arm advantage, he may not be effective on pitches that do not favour seam bowling.
While Kings XI may enjoy the presence of Cottrell as a left-arm option in their squad, it truly remains to be seen how many opportunities he could get with the street-smart Chris Jordan likely to be his direct competition for the overseas seamer's spot in the team. Whenever he does get to play, trust Cottrell to quickly become a fan favourite.