Besides some nerve-wracking matches, the Indian Premier League (IPL) also sees extravagant amounts being spent to procure players, more than any other domestic T20 league in the world. The two-month long cricket extravaganza is also a huge opportunity for budding cricketers to make some good money.
The fact that the uncapped Varun Chakravarthy fetched a massive ₹8.4 crores at the auction speaks volumes about the kind of money involved. The fans of IPL have become a fan of its auction and it is also eagerly awaited like the main event.
Currently, each franchise has an enormous budget of a ₹82 Crore to procure a squad of minimum 18 and maximum 25 players. The maximum overseas players allowed in a squad is 8.
But how often has spending massive amounts on one particular player paid off?
In this article, we take a look at the 11 most expensive players of all the 11 seasons thus far and how each has fared.
#1 IPL 2008 - MS Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings) - ₹9.5 crores
Former Team India skipper MSD fetched the highest bid of ₹9.5 crores in the inaugural edition of the IPL.
Dhoni was always the favourite at the auctions after he led the Men in Blue to a World T20 title in 2007. He was purchased by the Chennai Super Kings and has been with them since 2007, barring two IPL editions (2016 and 2017), when Dhoni was with Rising Pune Supergiant.
Mahi did a fantastic job in the inaugural edition. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored 414 in 16 matches at an average of 41.40 and a healthy strike rate of 133.54. The Ranchi-born player led CSK to the final where they eventually lost to Rajasthan Royals.
In fact, Dhoni remains one of the best signings ever made and has proven his worth in almost all the seasons. Dhoni led CSK to a record 7 IPL finals, helping them clinch 3 trophies and 4 runners-up positions. He has a major hand in making CSK the most successful team of the IPL.
#2 IPL 2009 - Andrew Flintoff (Chennai Super Kings) and Kevin Pietersen (Royal Challengers Bangalore) - ₹9.8 crores (approx) each
All-rounder Andrew Flintoff was touted to be one of the favourite picks during the 2nd edition of IPL. CSK picked up the Lancashire-born player for a hefty amount of ₹9.8 crores. However, as luck would have it, Flintoff suffered a knee injury and was ruled out of the tournament after playing 3 matches.
The lanky player could only manage to score 62 runs in those 3 games at a strike rate of 116.98. His performance with the ball was also poor as he clinched only 2 wickets in those three matches and had a high economy of 9.54. IPL 2009 was Flintoff's first and last appearance in the T20 extravaganza.
Pietersen also had a torrid season. RCB paid a handsome ₹9.8 crores to procure the right-handed batsman. However, the English player let the team down. He was also made the captain of the RCB side.
To add to RCB's woes, Pietersen could only play 6 matches during the season and had to depart due to international duties. In the end, he only managed to score 93 runs with the bat at a dismal average of 15.50. KP's performance with the ball was still decent as he managed to clinch a total of 4 wickets and had an economy rate of 6.53.
Pietersen's performances were far more superior in the 2010 and 2012 IPL editions.
#3 IPL 2010 - Shane Bond (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians) - ₹4.8 crores (approx) each
KKR roped in Shane Bond for a hefty amount of ₹4.8 crores. Touted as one of New Zealand's best fast bowlers of all time, Bond made 9 scalps in the 8 matches he played for the Shahrukh Khan-owned franchise during the 2010 season.
The Kiwi speedster's career was always marred by injuries. Even though Bond made a good impact in the 8 matches he played and had a decent economy of 7.22, KKR would have expected much more from him. The 2010 edition was Bond's solitary appearance in the IPL as he announced retirement from all forms of the game on 13 May 2010.
Pollard paid much better dividends for the price Mumbai Indians had paid to procure him. The Trinidad and Tobago-born player picked up 15 wickets in the 14 matches he played at an economy of 7.40 and a strike rate of 14.80.
The all-rounder played a few explosive knocks as well. He amassed 273 runs in the 14 matches at a mind-boggling strike rate of 185.71. Pollard has been a vital cog of the Mumbai-based franchise since 2010.
The 31-year-old had a big role in helping MI to the final in the 2010 IPL.
#4 IPL 2011 - Gautam Gambhir (Kolkata Knight Riders) - ₹14.9 crores
Gautam Gambhir was roped in by the Kolkata-based franchise for ₹14.9 crores ahead of IPL 2011. The Delhi-born player had not performed particularly well during the seasons 2009 and 2010 but did well during the 2011 edition.
The Delhi-born player made 378 runs in 15 matches at an average of 34.36 and a strike rate of 119.24. Gauti became an important part of KKR and led them to two IPL triumphs in the next four years.
Overall, Gambhir is the all-time 4th highest run-getter of the IPL and has amassed 4217 runs in 154 matches at an average of 31.23.
#5 IPL 2012 - Ravindra Jadeja (Chennai Super Kings) - ₹12.8 crore
Jadeja represented Rajasthan Royals in the initial two seasons of IPL and was a part of Kochi Tuskers Kerala in 2011.
The Gujarat-born player was roped in by Chennai Super Kings for ₹12.8 crores ahead of IPL 2012. Jaddu did decently well with the ball and made 12 scalps in 19 matches with a strike rate of 17.50 and an economy rate of 7.80.
His performance with the bat, however, was unsatisfactory as he could only manage 191 runs in 19 matches.
Regardless, the all-rounder's performance was important in helping CSK to the final, where they eventually lost to KKR.
#6 IPL 2013 - Glenn Maxwell (Mumbai Indians) - ₹6.3 crores (approx)
Mumbai Indians bought Glenn Maxwell for an impressive ₹6.3 crores ahead of IPL 2013. The hard-hitting batsman did not have a great stint with the Mumbai-based franchise. He played only 3 matches and scored merely 36 overall.
MI did, however, end up winning the IPL 2013 trophy but much cannot be said about Maxwell's contribution in the victory.
#7 IPL 2014 - Yuvraj Singh (Royal Challengers Bangalore) - ₹14 crores
Yuvraj Singh has amassed 2652 runs and clinched 36 wickets in the 128 IPL matches he has played in all these years.
The Chandigarh-born all-rounder had a decent season in 2014. He hit 376 runs in 14 matches at an average of 34.18 and a strike rate of 135.25. Yuvi also clinched a total of 5 wickets besides hitting 3 fifties.
In all, the 37-year-old has represented 5 franchises thus far. Mumbai Indians roped him in for his base price of ₹1 crore ahead of IPL 2019 and it will be his 6th franchise.
#8 IPL 2015 - Yuvraj Singh (Delhi Daredevils) - ₹16 crores
Yuvraj's good performance during the 2014 season earned him another hefty pay cheque in the 2015 edition of IPL. However, the all-rounder failed to impress this time around.
A part of the Delhi Daredevils this time around, the left-hander could only manage to score 248 runs in 14 matches at a dismal average of 19.07 and a strike rate of 118.09.
Yuvi was unimpressive with the ball as well and could only pick up 1 wicket in the entire season. The Delhi-based franchise ended up finishing at the 7th position on the table and won only 5 of their 14 matches.
#9 IPL 2016 - Shane Watson (Royal Challengers Bangalore) - ₹9.5 crores
Shane Watson had represented Rajasthan Royals from 2008 to 2015 and was roped in by Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of IPL 2016. RCB had to bid a spectacular ₹9.5 crores to procure his services.
The attacking all-rounder had a forgettable campaign as far as batting is concerned as he could only manage to score 179 runs in 16 matches at an average of 13.76.
Watto's bowling was still impressive in 2016 IPL as he clinched a total of 20 wickets at a strike rate of 16.95 and finished as the 3rd highest wicket taker of the edition.
#10 IPL 2017 - Ben Stokes (Rising Pune Supergiant) - ₹14.5 crores
Ben Stokes proved that he was bang for the buck when he was roped in by RPS ahead of IPL 2017.
The English all-rounder scored 316 runs in 12 matches at an average of 31.60 and a strike rate of 142.98. The aggressive cricketer also clinched 12 wickets overall at a commendable economy rate of 7.18.
He smashed a match-winning 103 off 63 balls against the Gujarat Lions as well. Overall, Ben proved his monies worth and was a vital cog in helping RPS reach the final, which they lost to Mumbai Indians by 1 run.
Stokes' exploits with both the bat and the ball earned him the Most Valuable Player of the season title.
#11 IPL 2018 - Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals) - ₹12.5 crores
There were high expectations from Stokes once again. In IPL 2018, Stokes was seen playing for Rajasthan Royals after the Rising Pune Supergiants were dissolved in May 2017.
Ben picked up just 8 wickets in 13 matches in IPL 2018 and also had an economy rate of 8.18.
The left-handed batsman's performance was far more disappointing with the bat as he could only manage to make 196 runs in all matches combined. His average was merely 16.33 and he failed to put up a significant performance with the bat, not even making a single half-century in the entire campaign.
Rajasthan Royals did make it to the playoffs in 2018 but lost the eliminator to Kolkata Knight Riders.
The experienced all-rounder has been in decent form lately and will look to make amends in the 2019 edition of the IPL.
How do you think Jaydev Unadkat and Varun Chakravarthy - the two most expensive buys of the 2019 IPL auction - will perform in the upcoming season of IPL? Do share your opinion in the comments section below.