The unique auction system of the Indian Premier League (IPL) saw its fair share of criticism when it was introduced in the inaugural season in 2008, with many claiming that cricketers were being treated as commodities. However, it has grown on most cricket fans and is one of the most anticipated events every year.
IPL teams' strategies in the auction are absolutely imperative to their performances on the field, and it usually comes as no surprise when the world's best cricketers are sold for crores of rupees.
Although hefty price tags often put a heap of pressure on players to perform, the biggest buys in the auction deliver more often than not.
Legendary T20 players who have gone unsold in an IPL auction
However, there have been a few legendary T20 cricketers who have gone unsold in the IPL auction, either because they weren't established cricketers then or because they simply didn't fit into the teams' plans at the time.
In this article, we take a look at 5 T20 legends who have gone unsold in an IPL auction.
#5 Shakib Al Hasan (2009, 2010)
Shakib Al Hasan was only 22 years old at the time of the 2009 IPL auction, but had already played 3 years of Test and ODI cricket. Arguably Bangladesh's greatest-ever player, the all-rounder had no buyers in the 2010 IPL auction as well, which was very surprising considering his stature in international cricket at the time.
Shakib was finally picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 2011 IPL auction and went on to represent them for 7 years before joining Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). The former Bangladesh captain has had a storied T20 international career - 76 matches, 1,567 runs, 92 wickets.
But in the IPL, he hasn't experienced the same success. Shakib hasn't featured regularly for both teams he has been part of, which is in stark contrast to his incredible performances in almost all other T20 franchise leagues in the world.
Despite his stop-start IPL career so far, the 33-year-old can offer a lot to any team he is part of and is an undisputed T20 legend.
#4 Aaron Finch (2013)
Aaron Finch is one of the greatest T20I players of all time. Even before making his international debut for Australia, the current limited-overs captain was picked up by IPL side Rajasthan Royals (RR), who spotted his abilities very early on.
After being part of the Delhi Daredevils (DD) setup in 2011 and 2012, and even making his ODI debut in January 2013, Finch didn't have any takers in the 2013 IPL auction at his base price of $200,000. However, the destructive opener replaced the injured Michael Clarke for the now-defunct Pune Warriors India (PWI).
He has since played for a plethora of IPL teams, most recently being picked up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the 2020 auction. Finch holds the first and third positions on the list of highest individual scores in T20I cricket and is a colossus in the shortest format of the game.
#3 Brendon McCullum (2019)
It can be argued that Brendon McCullum is one of the IPL's most influential players of all time. His record-breaking unbeaten 158 in the first-ever IPL game against RCB laid the platform for the T20 league to become the extravaganza it is today.
The former New Zealand captain featured in every edition of the tournament apart from one and played for as many as 5 teams. In the 2019 IPL auction, however, McCullum went unsold on the back of an under-par previous season with RCB.
In 109 matches in the IPL, Baz scored 2,880 runs with 2 hundreds to his name. Electric in the field and dynamic with the bat, McCullum dazzled audiences in T20I cricket as well, scoring over 2,000 runs in 71 games.
The 38-year-old retired from all forms of cricket after last year's GT20 Canada tournament and is currently the coach of former franchise KKR in the IPL.
#2 Andre Russell (2011)
If Andre Russell were to enter an IPL auction now, he'd probably command the highest price tag. Blessed with brute power, frightening pace, and incredible athleticism, the West Indian is one of the greatest T20 players of all time, but didn't find any suitors in the 2011 IPL auction.
Granted, he wasn't a familiar face then, but he was on the fringes of the national team and would make his ODI and T20I debuts in the same year. Russell finally found a team in the 2012 IPL auction, but the Delhi Daredevils didn't back the then-24-year-old to perform for them.
Russell's move to KKR in the 2014 edition of the IPL truly unleashed him on the world's biggest T20 stage, and he has since scored 1,342 runs at an average of 35.32 and strike rate of 188.75.
Due to differences with the board, the 32-year-old has played only 49 T20Is for West Indies but is still one of the greatest players to have graced the 20-over format.
#1 Chris Gayle (2011)
Christopher Henry Gayle went unsold in the 2011 IPL auction - let that sink in. The marauding West Indian was on the back of a few indifferent seasons with KKR, but was a regular in all three formats in international cricket (although he was dropped a few times) and was one of the most feared batsmen in the world.
After RCB lost Dirk Nannes due to injury, they signed Gayle in what was both a stroke of luck and a shrewd decision. And the rest, as they say, is history. In 85 games for the Karnataka outfit, the opener scored 3,163 runs, along with the highest-ever T20 score of 175* against PWI in 2013.
The Universe Boss has since played for Kings XI Punjab as well, and certainly has a claim to be perhaps the greatest T20 player of all time.
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