The familiar, puzzling madness of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Auction did not disappoint in its 2021 iteration. As the eight franchises entered the auction with wildly differing squad gaps, available purses and remaining spots, one would have expected conservative bidding by teams with low available purses.
In a strange turn of events, the top three buys of the auction were not picked up by the team with the largest available purse - the Punjab Kings. Teams bid with abandon, with the Kolkata Knight Riders seeming content to throw nearly all their remaining money at Krishnappa Gowtham at one stage before being priced out. A few uncapped Indian and overseas players also made a killing at the auction.
Here are the 5 most expensive players at the 2021 IPL Auction.
#5 Krishnappa Gowtham (IPL 2021: CSK for INR 9.25 Cr)
The team that crashed out of IPL 2021 earliest, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) had a few gaps in their squad to fill. Not only did they have an underwhelming Indian middle order, their spinners struggled to rein in the runs.
In Krishnappa Gowtham, a handy off-spinning all-rounder, CSK might have a solution to that problem.
Despite a poor season with the Punjab Kings in 2020, Gowtham sparked off a bidding war. Competing with two other teams looking for Indian all-rounders - KKR and the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) - the Super Kings prevailed.
Gowtham is now the most expensive uncapped player in IPL history, and will hope he flourishes under MS Dhoni's tutelage.
#4 Jhye Richardson (IPL 2021: PBKS for INR 14 Cr)
Australian paceman Jhye Richardson offered a quick-bowling option, the likes of which tend to go for big bucks at the option. Although an injury-riddled career has meant the 24-year-old quick has played a limited number of internationals, his form in ODIs in particular has been encouraging, along with a decent showing in T20s.
Richardson was hardly chalked up to be one of the top five buys, but the absurdity of the auction combined with the requirements of the Punjab Kings (PBKS) saw his price balloon. Ultimately, the Kings prevailed and should be heavily bolstered by Richardson's addition.
#3 Glenn Maxwell (IPL 2021: RCB for INR 14.25 Cr)
Prior to the auction, a buzz had started building up about Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell joining the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for IPL 2021.
In fact, the former Punjab Kings player had himself talked up the opportunity, should he be offered it. What stood in his way, however, was an abysmal 2020 IPL where he did not score a single six and let his team down catastrophically with the bat.
Apparently it mattered for little in the eyes of franchises. What started with an opening bid from KKR escalated into a massive bidding war, with the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) dragging the bid into eye-watering territory. Ultimately, the Bangalore franchise prevailed with a massive dent to their purse.
Maxwell will be used by RCB to provide crucial middle-order support to AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli.
#2 Kyle Jamieson (IPL 2021: RCB for INR 15 Cr)
Kyle Jamieson was one of India's nemeses on their disastrous Test tour of New Zealand. The 6'6" Kiwi had an outstanding 2020 in international cricket, and is already in the top ten ICC Test all-rounders. Performances against India have often played a role in the auction, and this time was no different.
Jamieson spurred a bidding war, considering the dearth of similarly talented all-rounders, and soon his price shot through the roof. Going for INR 15 crore to RCB, Jamieson became one of the five most expensive IPL Auction buys of all time. Along with Dan Christian, Jamieson significantly strengthens RCB's pace bowling unit, apart from lengthening their batting line-up.
#1 Chris Morris (IPL 2021: RR for INR 16.25 Cr)
RCB made a bold decision by releasing Chris Morris despite a positive showing in his short stint in IPL 2020. Though he had set them back by INR 10 crore, there was merit in retaining Morris given his ability to bowl with express pace and hit the ball into the stands. RCB probably released the Proteas all-rounder with the expectation that his 2021 auction price would be lower.
It was not to be, as the Rajasthan Royals entered a fierce battle to secure Morris' services. In the process, Morris became the most expensive buy in IPL history. He rejoins a franchise with whom he reaped a good amount of success, and will significantly boost a team that has found the going tough in the past three seasons.