Five overseas signings to watch
The South Africa opening batsman was among several players who went unsold at the auction in Bangalore. He was not an unknown at the time - he toured India with Cape Cobras in last year's Champions League T20. He soon found himself in South Africa's Twenty20 plans, touring New Zealand earlier this year. One knock was enough for the franchises to take notice. At Seddon Park, Hamilton - by no means the biggest ground in the world - Levi smashed a record century off just 45 balls with 13 sixes, the most ever for a Twenty20 innings. Several hits went many rows back, showing that he had the power to clear bigger grounds as well. Sahara Pune Warriors were reportedly interested in him, but he was ultimately picked up by Mumbai Indians as a replacement for Andrew Symonds, who pulled out. Levi hopes to open with Sachin Tendulkar and use this Indian experience to master subcontinent conditions.
The Trinidad and Tobago spinner is not a new face to Indian audiences. He emerged from last year's Champions League as one of the players to watch in the future. His stock ball is the offspinner, but he has developed the mystery delivery called the knuckle ball, a variation delivered with a loose wrist and a corkscrew twist of two fingers that makes it grip, turn away from the right hander, and bounce alarmingly. At the Champions League, he confounded Chennai Super Kings on his way to figures of 3 for 8 - a haul that including the wickets of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina. He's now a regular in West Indies' limited-overs squads and is in the reckoning for the Tests against Australia as well. If picked, Narine could show up for Kolkata Knight Riders only by the end of the month. His base price was US$50,000, but the franchise was willing to fork out US$700,000 to get him.
Marchant de Lange
This soft-spoken South Africa right-arm fast bowler is anything but shy with the ball. It's all raw pace and bounce, as he's capable of bowling consistently at 150kph and above. Kolkata Knight Riders bought him at the auction at his base price of $50,000. A new entrant to international cricket, de Lange showed the touring Australians what he's capable of, nipping out five wickets in a tour game. Some Australia players told Kolkata: "This guy is bowling fireballs". He took seven in an innings on Test debut, making him the most successful Test debutant of 2011. He also showed his temperament in a close Twenty20 against New Zealand in Auckland. With six to defend off the last over, captain AB de Villiers tossed the ball to the inexperienced de Lange. He conceded just three runs and took two wickets in South Africa's heist. Will he be a last-over specialist for Kolkata too?
This right-arm fast bowler was one of New Zealand's finds of the season. The nephew of former national coach John Bracewell, Doug Bracewell took a five-for on Test debut in Zimbabwe, but his match haul of 9 for 60 in a winning cause in Hobart is a performance he will never forget. It took a rookie to break New Zealand's Test jinx against Australia. Delhi Daredevils bought him for his base price of $50,000. He has pace, hits the deck hard and is a capable lower-order batsman. He took nine wickets in eight games for Central Districts in the Twenty20 HRV Cup in New Zealand.
Delhi Daredevils bought the West Indies allrounder for $450,000 - nine times his base price. Though still a relative newcomer to international cricket, his all-round abilities in limited-overs cricket caught the attention of team owners in Bangladesh and India. Like Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, Russell is capable of massive hits - he has a Twenty20 strike-rate of 148.58. He demonstrated that during West Indies' one-day series in India last year - not a bad stage to audition for the IPL. His highest ODI score of 92 also came against India. He bowls at good pace - though not as quick as de Lange - and has variations in his yorkers and slower balls. His athletic fielding was also impressive in the recently-concluded one-day series against Australia. Delhi should have his services all through the tournament, unless he's picked for West Indies' home Tests.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo