Indian Premier League

Worth the spend?

Cricinfo looks at the best buys, and those players who surely didn't do enough to justify their price tags

Mathew Varghese

June 4, 2008

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Shane Watson may have cost only US$125,000 for the Rajasthan Royals, but he was surely worth a million dollars © Getty Images
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More than three months ago, the Indian Premier League had created a storm with the amounts that players fetched at the first auction in February. What it also did was add a new yardstick to measure and compare player performance. Runs scored, averages, wickets taken, strike-rates etc were used to gauge player performance, but now the IPL franchises will be weighing those alongside the sums, in some cases astronomical, paid to the players. Cricinfo reviews how players fared in the 45-day tournament gone by.

Top performers
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was auctioned for US$1,500,000, while Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya and Yuvraj Singh earned over $1 million, but Shaun Marsh, a $30,000 signing, was the tournament's leading run-getter with 616 runs at a sizeable average of 68.44. Marsh took around $48 for every run he scored, while Dhoni's whopping price means his dollars per run scored works out to nearly 3623, more than 75 times that of Marsh's.

Top run-getters in the IPL (more than 400 runs)
Player Runs Average Strike-rate Price (in US$) $ per run
Shaun Marsh 616 68.44 139.68 30,000 48.70
Gautam Gambhir 534 41.07 140.89 725,000 1357.68
Sanath Jayasuriya 514 42.83 166.34 975,000 1896.89
Shane Watson 472 47.20 151.76 125,000 264.83
Graeme Smith 441 49.00 121.82 475,000 1077.10
Adam Gilchrist 436 33.53 137.10 700,000 1605.50
Yusuf Pathan 435 31.07 179.01 475,000 1091.95
Suresh Raina 421 38.27 142.71 650,000 1543.94
Mahendra Singh Dhoni 414 41.40 133.54 1,500,000 3623.19
Virender Sehwag 406 33.83 184.54 833,750 2053.57
Rohit Sharma 404 36.72 147.98 750,000 1856.43

Shane Watson, whom Rajasthan Royals purchased for just $125,000, slots in at No. 4 in both the batting and bowling charts, and he rightfully won the Player of the Tournament award. Sohail Tanvir was another of Rajasthan's stars in the IPL, and his 22 wickets at 12.09 left him heads and shoulders above the rest of the bowlers. In total, Rajasthan spent only $225,000 on both Tanvir and Watson. The two picked up 39 wickets between them, not forgetting Watson's immense contribution with the bat and in the field. Tanvir took back $4545.45 for every wicket he took, while the corresponding number was over $50,000 for the likes of Irfan Pathan and RP Singh.

Top wicket-takers in the IPL (15 or more wickets)
Player Wickets Average Economy-rate Price (in US$) $ per wicket
Sohail Tanvir 22 12.09 6.46 100,000 4545.45
Shane Warne 19 21.26 7.76 450,000 23684.21
Sreesanth 19 23.26 8.63 625,000 32894.74
Shane Watson 17 22.52 7.07 125,000 7352.94
Piyush Chawla 17 22.88 8.30 400,000 23529.41
Albie Morkel 17 23.47 8.31 675,000 39705.88
Manpreet Gony 17 26.05 7.38 50,000* 2941.18
Yo Mahesh 16 23.12 8.77 50,000* 3125.00
Farveez Maharoof 15 16.60 6.91 225,000 15000.00
Irfan Pathan 15 23.33 6.60 925,000 61666.67
RP Singh 15 29.46 8.61 875,000 58333.33

Icons and leaders
The IPL had demarcated 'icon' players for five cities; coincidentally, all five - Tendulkar [Mumbai Indians], Rahul Dravid [Bangalore Royal Challengers], Sourav Ganguly [Kolkata Knight Riders], Yuvraj Singh [Kings XI Punjab], Virender Sehwag [Delhi Daredevils] - happened to be batsmen. Icons received 15% more than the next-highest player in their franchise, but it was Sehwag, the lowest earner among them - he was the only one with a salary below $1m - who topped the run-scoring charts. Tendulkar's injury meant he missed half his side's matches, while Dravid and Ganguly were the leading run-scorers for the Bangalore Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders - the latter made some vital contributions with the ball as well.

Icon players
Player Runs Average Strike-rate Cost (in US$) $ per run
Sachin Tendulkar 188 31.33 106.21 1,121,250 5964.10
Sourav Ganguly 349 29.08 113.68 1,092,500 3130.37
Yuvraj Singh 299 23.00 162.50 1,063,750 3557.69
Rahul Dravid 371 28.53 124.49 1,035,000 2789.76
Virender Sehwag 406 33.83 184.54 833,750 2053.57


Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq couldn't repeat their World Twenty20 heroics in the IPL © AFP
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All the five icons were also captains of their teams. The remaining three sides were led by Shane Warne [Rajasthan], Dhoni [Chennai Super Kings], and VVS Laxman [Deccan Chargers]. Harbhajan Singh and Shaun Pollock led Mumbai in the absence of Tendulkar. Laxman suffered an injury midway through the tournament, and Adam Gilchrist, the leading run-scorer among keepers, took up charge of Deccan, who finished at the bottom. Although iconless Deccan failed miserably, the other two teams without 'icons' made it the final, and Rajasthan, who prevailed in a pulsating final, were the only team whose first-choice captain was an overseas player.

How the other heavyweights fared
Andrew Symonds, the player who went for the second-highest price after Dhoni, was available for just four matches, and though he scored a blistering century against Rajasthan, his poor bowling cost Deccan the match. Ishant Sharma fetched a whopping $950,000 at the auction - the most for a bowler - as his performance Down Under was still fresh in memory, but he was completely lacklustre in the IPL, in which he took just seven wickets. That works out to a humongous $135,714.28 per wicket.

Jacques Kallis had been dropped from South Africa's side for the World Twenty20 last year, and his performances for Bangalore were hardly inspiring. Despite that he played most of the matches, probably because it would have hurt the pockets to rest a $900,000 signing. Mumbai lost Harbhajan, its $850,000 purchase to a slap, while Kolkata, who won Chris Gayle for $800,000, had to frustratingly watch as he warmed the bench with an injury before heading back to the West Indies.

Another $800,000 signing, Robin Uthappa, was largely unimpressive for Mumbai, and at times sloppy in the field, while Deccan's Herschelle Gibbs and Shahid Afridi were far from their best. Brendon McCullum and Kumar Sangakkara both justified their $700,000 price tags- McCullum's 158 to kickstart the IPL left one and all marvelling. Rajasthan, the least-expensive franchise, and the team which spent well below $4m [$5m was the upper limit for all teams], also found its costliest player, Mohammad Kaif at $675,000, scoring just 176 runs at 16 - perhaps they extracted his worth by playing him for all 16 games, utilising his handy presence in the field. Delhi's top three - Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan - were prolific but their middle-order signings - Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Karthik and Shoaib Malik - failed to fire consistently.

Other players priced $500,000 and above
Player Price Runs Average Strike-rate Wickets Average Economy-rate
Andrew Symonds 1,350,000 161 80.50 153.33 0 - 14.78
Ishant Sharma 950,000 11 11.00 100.00 7 47.00 7.80
Jacques Kallis 900,000 199 18.09 108.74 1 82.00 8.94
Brett Lee 900,000 17 17.00 130.76 4 28.00 7.00
Harbhajan Singh 850,000 30 15.00 176.47 5 16.40 8.20
Chris Gayle 800,000 - - - - - -
Robin Uthappa 800,000 320 35.55 114.69 - - -
Brendon McCullum 700,000 188 62.66 204.34 - - -
Kumar Sangakkara 700,000 320 35.55 161.61 - - -
Jacob Oram 675,000 18 18.00 150.00 3 49.66 9.31
Manoj Tiwary 675,000 104 26.00 122.35 - - -
Shahid Afridi 675,000 81 10.12 176.08 9 25.00 7.50
Mohammad Kaif 675,000 176 16.00 102.92 - - -
Mohammad Asif 650,000 3 1.50 50.00 8 37.00 9.25
Daniel Vettori 625,000 - - - 2 27.00 6.75
David Hussey 625,000 319 29.00 123.16 2 65.00 10.00
Muttiah Muralitharan 600,000 0 0.00 0.00 11 36.72 6.96
Herschelle Gibbs 575,000 167 18.55 109.15 - - -
Shaun Pollock 550,000 147 18.37 132.43 11 27.36 6.54
Dinesh Karthik 525,000 145 24.16 135.51 - - -
Anil Kumble 500,000 13 6.50 76.47 7 43.42 7.93
Cameron White 500,000 114 16.28 111.76 0 - 24.00
Shoaib Malik 500,000 52 13.00 110.63 2 42.50 10.00

Aussie rules
While the IPL brought to the fore some of India's domestic players such as Yusuf Pathan, Manpreet Gony, Amit Mishra and Shikhar Dhawan, Australian players too flourished in the IPL. Seasoned pros such as Warne, Glenn McGrath, Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey were top-draw, Watson and Marsh excelled, and James Hopes, David Hussey, Simon Katich, Dominic Thornely and Luke Pomersbach did no harm to their prospects for next season.

However, there were also a few NPAs (non-performing Australians), top of the list being Ricky Ponting, who managed just 39 at 9.75, while Kolkata team-mate Brad Hodge didn't make an impression either. Cameron White and Luke Ronchi came to the IPL with a reputation for hard-hitting batting, but both had a humbling experience in India.

Australian players at the IPL
Player Price Runs Average Strike-rate Wickets Average Economy-rate
Andrew Symonds 1,350,000 161 80.50 153.33 0 - 14.78
Brett Lee 900,000 17 17.00 130.76 4 28.00 7.00
Adam Gilchrist 700,000 436 33.53 137.10 - - -
David Hussey 625,000 319 29.00 123.16 2 65.00 10.00
Cameron White 500,000 114 16.28 111.76 0 - 24.00
Shane Warne 450,000 70 14.00 118.64 19 21.26 7.76
Ricky Ponting 400,000 39 9.75 73.58 - - -
Matthew Hayden 375,000 189 63.00 144.27 - - -
Michael Hussey 350,000 168 84.00 168.00 - - -
Glenn McGrath 350,000 4 4.00 80.00 12 29.75 6.61
James Hopes 300,000 221 20.09 149.32 7 39.42 9.85
Simon Katich 200,000 96 96.00 139.13 - - -
Shane Watson 125,000 472 47.20 151.76 17 22.52 7.07
Ashley Noffke 80,000 9 9.00 90.00 1 40.00 10.00
Luke Pomersbach 50,000 152 152.00 153.53 - - -
Brett Geeves 50,000 - - - 1 91.00 11.37
Shaun Marsh 30,000 616 68.44 139.68 - - -
Dominic Thornely 25,000 39 19.50 73.58 3 13.33 5.71
Luke Ronchi ^ 34 8.50 106.25 - - -
Darren Lehmann ^ 18 9.00 100.00 - - -
Brad Hodge ^ 12 4.00 70.58 - - -

Best World Twenty20 players at the IPL
Last year Cricinfo had chosen a World Twenty20 XI, comprising the best players from the event in South Africa. Of the ten who played in the IPL, some like Gambhir and Hayden continued their good form in the shortest format, but Afridi, Player of the Tournament in South Africa, had an IPL to forget. Misbah-ul-Haq had used the World Twenty20 to force his way back into the Pakistan Test and ODI sides as well, but he didn't do too well in his stint with Bangalore. RP was a shadow of the menace he was on the seaming tracks in South Africa, and Yuvraj too was unable to find his sublime hitting form.

Best players at the World Twenty20 in the IPL
Player Price Runs Average Strike-rate Wickets Average Economy-rate
Matthew Hayden 375,000 189 63.00 144.27 - - -
Gautam Gambhir 725,000 534 41.07 140.89 - - -
Yuvraj Singh 1,063,750 299 23.00 162.50 3 27.66 9.22
Shoaib Malik 500,000 52 13.00 110.63 2 42.50 10.00
Misbah-ul-Haq 150,000 117 16.71 144.44 - - -
Mahendra Singh Dhoni 1,500,000 414 41.40 133.54 - - -
Shahid Afridi 675,000 81 10.12 176.08 9 25.00 7.50
Daniel Vettori 625,000 - - - 2 27.00 6.75
Umar Gul 150,000 39 13.00 205.26 12 15.33 8.17
RP Singh 875,000 27 29.46 8.61 15 6.75 112.50

Young stars not shining bright
Players from India's Under-19 World Cup-winning side also were auctioned for prices ranging from $30,000-50,000. However, not many got a fair chance in the IPL. Of the lot, Ravindra Jadeja, who was bought by Rajasthan, played the most games - 14, while Virat Kohli, who had led the side, featured in 13 of Bangalore's 14. Left-arm fast bowler Pradeep Sangwan played seven for Delhi, but it was Bangalore's wicketkeeper-batsman Shreevats Goswami who won the prize for the best U-19 player, albeit he figured in just four games.

*Minimum price assumed due to non-availability of data
^Prices not available

Mathew Varghese is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

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Mathew VargheseClose
Sub-editor (stats) After graduating in Economics from St Xavier's College, Mathew Varghese did a journalism course before joining Cricinfo. Born and brought up in Bombay, Mathew thought hailing from the same city as Sachin Tendulkar would automatically make him inherit some of the genius. Sadly, besides a low grip on the bat handle, he acquired nothing else. He still dreams of being the perfect cricketer - a Bradmanesque batsman who can blend aggression with dour defence; a bowler who can perform the roles of McGrath, Lee and Warne; a fielder in the Jonty class; and a captain-cum-coach with an unprecedented record.
Tournament Results
Super Kings v Royals at Mumbai - Jun 1, 2008
Royals won by 3 wickets (with 0 balls remaining)
Super Kings v Kings XI at Mumbai - May 31, 2008
Super Kings won by 9 wickets (with 31 balls remaining)
Daredevils v Royals at Mumbai - May 30, 2008
Royals won by 105 runs
Kings XI v Royals at Mohali - May 28, 2008
Kings XI won by 41 runs
RCB v Mum Indians at Bangalore - May 28, 2008
Mum Indians won by 9 wickets (with 12 balls remaining)
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