Chris Morris, the South Africa allrounder, and New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Jamieson were the biggest winners at the 2021 IPL auction. Morris became the IPL's most expensive overseas player ever signed at an auction when he was picked up by Rajasthan Royals for INR 16.25 crore (USD 2.2 million approx), while Jamieson recorded the day's second-highest figure, signed by Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 15 crore (USD 2 million approx).
Two more spending records were broken, dispelling doubts over a cautionary mood in the Covid-19 era. Karnataka's offspinning allrounder K Gowtham became the most expensive uncapped buy in IPL history when Chennai Super Kings signed him for INR 9.25 crore (USD 1.2 million approx). And Punjab Kings' INR 8 crore (USD 1 million approx) for Australian fast bowler Riley Meredith made him the costliest uncapped overseas player ever. The day's two other millionaires were Glenn Maxwell - picked up by the Royal Challengers for INR 14.25 crore (USD 1.95 million approx) - and his compatriot Jhye Richardson, signed by the Kings for INR 14 crore (USD 1.9 million approx).
Notable mentions included Cheteshwar Pujara returning to the IPL after seven years - the last time Pujara played any form of T20 cricket was in March 2019, for Saurashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - going to the Super Kings for INR 50 lakh, and Arjun Tendulkar, the very last name out of the hat, going to Mumbai Indians for INR 20 lakh. On the flip side, some big names like Aaron Finch, Jason Roy and Sheldon Cottrell remained unpicked.
After a slow start to the proceedings, Maxwell became the day's first millionaire. Maxwell began at his base price of INR 2 crore and the bids quickly spiralled, with the Royals, the Super Kings, and Kolkata Knight Riders also fighting for his signature.
Maxwell had spent seven seasons with the Punjab Kings (Kings XI Punjab till last season), scoring 1383 runs at a strike rate of 157.69, and helped the team reach the final in 2014.
Then Morris' name came up and sparked a fierce bidding war - his eventual fee climbing more than 20 times from the base price - involving four different teams, with the Royals eventually beating out the Royal Challengers, Mumbai Indians and the Kings to sign him. He had played for the Royals during the 2015 season and was the team's joint-highest wicket-taker that year with 13 wickets.
Morris overtook Yuvraj Singh (INR 16 crore in 2015), Pat Cummins (INR 15.5 crore in 2020) and Ben Stokes (INR 14.5 crore in 2017) as the costliest buy at an IPL auction, but the Royals believe it was money well spent.
"We did due diligence, he's an ex-Royal who can deal with a price tag like that," Jake Lush McCrum, the Royals CEO, said. " He is a quality bowler through all phases of the game, can win us games with the bat too. We did stretch, that was our last bid, luckily Kings XI held back. Delighted to have him back with the Royals."
The Royal Challengers also came close to bagging Maxwell's Australian team-mate Steven Smith, but were eventually beaten out by Delhi Capitals, who signed him for INR 2.2 crore. The Capitals also bolstered their squad with the addition of India quick Umesh Yadav, for INR 1 crore.
Having missed out on Maxwell, the Super Kings did eventually manage to get another allrounder, fighting off bids from the Kings to land England's Moeen Ali for INR 7 crore.
The Kings also tried to secure Shakib Al Hasan for INR 2.6 crore, but Bangladesh's premier allrounder was eventually sold for INR 3.2 crore to his former team, the Knight Riders, with whom he won the title in 2012 and 2014.
The Kings signed England opener and the top-ranked T20I batsman Dawid Malan for his base price of INR 1.5 crore. They then splashed INR 14 crore on Richardson, winning a lengthy battle against the Capitals and the Royal Challengers for the Perth Scorchers fast bowler. Soon after, the Kings and the Capitals locked horns yet again, this time for Hobart Hurricanes seamer Meredith. The Capitals went as high as INR 7.75 crore for Meredith's signature, but the Kings sealed the deal with their INR 8 crore bid.
Tamil Nadu finisher Shahrukh Khan, who recently won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, also landed a giant payday thanks to the Kings, who signed him for INR 5.25 crore, more than 51 times his base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Mumbai, the most successful IPL team and two-time defending champions, spent most of their purse on boosting their already stellar bowling attack, signing Adam Milne (INR 3.20 crore), Nathan Coulter-Nile (INR 5 crore) and Piyush Chawla (INR 2.40 crore). But, with the day's very last transaction, they landed arguably the biggest surname in Indian cricket.