There are always a couple of players who emerge as millionaires from the Indian Premier League auction and this time around it was the likes of Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Morris, Sheldon Cottrell, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Shimron Hetmyer who fetched over USD 1 million in the auction held in Kolkata on Thursday (December 19) for the 2020 edition. However, the auction is also about stealing effective players for a bargain, and this event was no different.
There were quite a few teams who managed to acquire the services of quality players without spending big bucks. And generally these are the kinds of players who play a huge role in the team's success. Here, we look at six such foreign players who were bought at their base price but could offer a lot more than what those numbers in their cheques suggest:
Chris Green - Kolkata Knight Riders (INR 20 lakh)
The 26-year-old all-rounder recently signed a six-year deal with Sydney Thunder, longest in the history of the Big Bash League, and that tells you how dependable he can be. The off-spinner plays franchise cricket all around the world and can chip in all three facets of the game. He has got a good head on his shoulders and is a thinking bowler. He has an economy of just 6.68 in 77 T20s despite bowling majority of his overs in the powerplays. Green has only taken 19 wickets at 34.2 in the first six overs but has a superb economy rate of just 6. In 2019, he has an economy of 5.8 and concedes a boundary every 9.5 deliveries. No other bowler (minimum 50 overs) has a better economy and higher balls per boundary then Green this year.
Apart from his off-spin, Green is also a handy striker of the ball down the order. If Sunil Narine was to miss out due to some reason, KKR can always bring in Green who will provide that much-required control no matter how much assistance the surface is offering. Unlike Narine, Green isn't a slogger and can also be trusted with the bat at any situation. With only four overseas players allowed, Kolkata will most probably start with Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins and Narine but as the tournament goes on, the likes of Green and Tom Banton too can come into play.
Tom Banton - Kolkata Knight Riders (INR 1 crore)
Billed as England's next Kevin Pietersen, Banton is a ferocious 21-year-old opener from England. The right-hander shot to stardom in the last edition of the Vitality T20 Blast. Playing for Somerset, Banton smashed 549 runs in 13 encounters at a strike rate of 161.47. Prior to that, he had slammed scores of 112 in the quarter-final, 59 in the semi-final and 69 in the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup, helping his team win the title. Banton is someone who can hit all around the park and disrupt any bowling attack. He made his T20I debut last month in New Zealand and managed to impress everyone with a couple of eye-catching cameos.
On Friday (December 20), Banton blasted 64 off 36 deliveries, studded with six fours and four maximums, against Melbourne Stars. In Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi and Narine, Kolkata already have three openers and even if the latter fails, the franchise will most probably go with the former two up the order. In Kolkata where the surface offers good bounce and pace, Kolkata can throw in Banton at the top just to create chaos. And if the formula works, Banton can win them games on his own.
Joshua Philippe - Royal Challengers Bangalore (INR 20 lakh)
The Sydney Sixers wicketkeeper-batsman couldn't have timed his unbeaten 81-run knock against Perth Scorchers better as the 22-year-old got picked by the Bangalore-based franchise for his base price. The Chinnaswamy surface will suit his game style as the right-hander likes to get going from the word go. In-form Marnus Labuschagne might be touted as Steve Smith 2.0 but Philippe too has plenty of similarities with Australia's premier batsman. That baby face, that blonde hair, Philippe even gets fidgety like Smith. In 13 T20s that he has played in 2019, Philippe has scored runs at an average of 45.88 and a strike rate of 159.6.
However, he will be competing with his country-mate Aaron Finch for the opening spot and he can only get some game time if the latter doesn't play. He is good against both pace and spin and is a quick starter as well, operating at a strike rate of over 150 in his first 10 balls. Imagine if the ploy of opening Philippe with Devdutt Padikkal works, Bangalore can stop worrying about openers for the next few years.
Chris Lynn - Mumbai Indians (INR 2 crore)
Mumbai might have hit a jackpot in Chris Lynn after purchasing him for just 2 crore. The swashbuckling opener from Australia will for sure enjoy batting at the Wankhede as it's probably one of the best Indian venues for batsmen. The right-hander has operated at a strike rate of over 134 this year and it will only get better next year if he plays at Wankhede. He struggles against spinners but the surface in Mumbai will nullify that as well.
The 29-year-old will bat around Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav and that will give him the license to play his natural game, something that he couldn't do for Kolkata. There's a high possibility that Mumbai might play Lynn over Quinton de Kock and ask Ishan Kishan to do the wicketkeeping. And more importantly, like Lynn already mentioned, he "won't have to play against Jasprit Bumrah", making him a 'guaranteed' success.
Fabian Allen - Sunrisers Hyderabad (INR 50 lakh)
The 24-year-old all-rounder from Jamaica oozes charisma! He had a fantastic Caribbean Premier League in which he scored 218 runs at a strike rate of 177.23. He didn't bowl much and could only manage two wickets in the season. He has a career strike rate of over 165 and can provide SRH that much-required firepower at the end. SRH have a solid top-order comprising of David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey but they need someone down the order who can play those big shots and also chip in with a couple of overs left. He is nowhere near the class of Shakib Al Hasan but Allen has the ability to come up with match-defining performances. Not to forget, he is a livewire on the field!
James Neesham - Kings XI Punjab (INR 50 lakh)
Kings XI Punjab can now fire their Social Media Manager now that they have Neesham. Punjab can give all their social media credentials to Neesham, but jokes apart, the New Zealand all-rounder's cricket credentials aren't bad either. The 29-year-old doesn't have great numbers in this format in 2019 but when it comes to ODIs, Neesham had quite a good year. He scored runs at an average of over 43 and also managed 25 wickets at 20.8. Not to forget, he almost won New Zealand the World Cup! With so many international stars in the squad, it's highly unlikely that Neesham will start for Punjab but when the opportunity comes, Neesham has the temperament for big games.
Honourable mentions - Josh Hazlewood (CSK | 2 crore), Dale Steyn (RCB | 2 crore) and Jason Roy (DC | 1.5 crore).
* All stats are till December 20.