While some of the most expensive players from the 2020 auction have failed to make a mark this season, these five smart buys, all for less than Rs 3 crore (about US$410,000), have repaid their price tags and then some.
Rahul Tewatia, Rajasthan Royals: Rs 3 crore
Tewatia has been the flavour of the season for the Royals. His 224 runs at an average of 44.80 makes him the fourth highest run getter for the team after 11 matches, behind Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Steven Smith. His strike rate of 143.58 is superior to both Smith's and Buttler's. His explosive ability with bat has won the Royals two games they seemed destined to lose, against the Kings XI Punjab and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, and his bowling has been dependable. Tewatia's seven wickets tie him with Shreyas Gopal as the second highest wicket-taker for his side, while his economy rate of 7.25 makes him his side's second-most economical bowler, behind only Jofra Archer. It's a remarkable return for a player who struggled to make an impact in previous IPL seasons.
Isuru Udana, Royal Challengers Bangalore: Rs 50 lakh
When they picked Udana up for his base price in the auction, the Royal Challengers probably did not expect he would play eight of their first ten games. But he has proven to be a crucial player for them this season. It was clear after two games that death bowling was an issue for RCB, with Dale Steyn going for big runs. Enter Udana, who has bowled more balls at the death than any other RCB bowler this season and has the second-best economy rate - 9.44 - there among all RCB bowlers who have bowled more than three overs in the death. Among his seven wickets this season are some crucial strikes - he dismissed Ishan Kishan on 99 to stop a Mumbai Indians heist, got Steven Smith early in a win against the Royals, and dismissed Andre Russell in a win against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Ravi Bishnoi, Kings XI Punjab: Rs 2 crore
Bishnoi, who was one of the standout performers at the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa earlier in the year, has exceeded expectations for the Kings XI. His aggressive legspin has fetched nine wickets in ten games, making him the team's second highest wicket-taker. His economy rate of 7.91 is respectable too. He has taken three wickets in an innings twice, and his victims this season include David Warner, Eoin Morgan, Aaron Finch and Jonny Bairstow. Still only 20, Bishnoi could end up being a great long-term investment for Kings XI.
Priyam Garg, Sunrisers Hyderabad: Rs 1.9 crore
Garg was Bishnoi's captain at the Under-19 World Cup and has been a regular in the Sunrisers line-up. He batted lower in the order early in the season, which meant he did not get many balls to face. His tally of 106 runs in nine games might not look flash, but he won the Sunrisers a game that could be crucial to them qualifying: the Chennai Super Kings had reduced them to 69 for 4 - with David Warner and Kane Williamson falling in successive balls - when Garg's 51 not out off 26 balls took them to a winning total. He mixed caution and aggression beautifully in partnership with Abhishek Sharma. Garg has also been superb in the field, with four catches, including two tough outfield chances taken in a win against the Kolkata Knight Riders, and a flat pick-up-and-throw to run out Glenn Maxwell in a win against the Kings XI.
Kartik Tyagi, Rajasthan Royals: 1.3 crore
Another member of India's 2020 Under-19 World squad, Tyagi first featured against the Mumbai Indians on October 6 and has played every game since. He bowls at 140kph-plus, hits the deck hard, extracts good carry, and can bowl a mean yorker. He has taken a wicket in six of the seven games he has played, but most impressively, he has restricted batsmen at the death. He has bowled 37 balls in that phase this season and gone at 8.91, the best death economy rate for any Royals bowler who has bowled more than two overs there. Even Jofra Archer has gone at 10.57. The quality of his wickets has also been impressive. Virat Kohli, Jonny Bairstow, Shane Watson, Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer and Quinton de Kock are the six batsmen he has dismissed.
Honourable mentions: Tushar Deshpande (Delhi Capitals, Rs 20 lakh), Deepak Hooda (Kings XI Punjab, Rs 50 lakh), and Rahul Tripathi (Kolkata Knight Riders, Rs 60 lakh)