Prices skyrocketed in the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction.
Chris Morris became the most expensive player in the history of the IPL auction, while Riley Meredith became the costliest overseas uncapped player ever.
Krishnappa Gowtham, who got a lucrative contract from the Chennai Super Kings, is now the highest-paid uncapped Indian player in the league, and overseas stars like Glenn Maxwell and Jhye Richardson caused intense bidding wars.
There were players at the other end of the spectrum as well. Here are 3 bargain buys from the IPL 2021 auction.
#3 Umesh Yadav (INR 1 crore to DC for IPL 2021)
After a superb IPL 2018 campaign in which he took 20 wickets in 14 games at an economy rate of 7.86, Umesh Yadav's form has fallen off a little. The pacer has managed only 8 wickets over his last two IPL seasons, with his economy rate touching 10.
However, Yadav was one of the few fast bowlers in the IPL 2021 auction pool who is still active in the international circuit, and a number of teams needed Indian pacers. Only the Delhi Capitals showed any interest in him, and snapped him up at his base price.
Yadav will be the perfect support for Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Ishant Sharma. His experience will also help in mentoring youngsters like Avesh Khan who are part of the DC roster. Although his recent performances in the T20 format haven't been great, Yadav was one of the best bargain buys in the IPL 2021 auction.
Talking about the same, Gautam Gambhir said:
"Umesh Yadav, I was absolutely shocked when he went for Rs 1 crore, there are not many fast bowlers who can bowl 135-140. Yes, he can be a little hot and cold, but when he is hot he can be very hot, but then not many teams went for him."
#2 Dawid Malan (INR 1.5 crores to PBKS for IPL 2021)
By far the #1-ranked T20I batsman in the world, Dawid Malan was expected to be one of the hottest commodities in the IPL 2021 auction. But the Punjab Kings acquired the southpaw at his base price of INR 1.5 crores in what was definitely one of the best bargains of the auction.
In 19 T20Is for England, Malan has scored 855 runs at an average of 53.43 and a strike rate of 149.47. His approach has been unique, as he has taken his time to settle without worrying about wasting balls before going big - often successfully, as his record suggests.
Malan may not walk into the PBKS playing XI in the presence of Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson. But if he gets an opportunity, he could make the other teams regret not pursuing him.
#1 Steve Smith (INR 2.2 crores to DC for IPL 2021)
It seemed like Steve Smith would join Indian captain Virat Kohli at the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the start of the IPL 2021 auction. But seeing the former Aussie skipper's price at just INR 2 crores, the Delhi Capitals stepped in and snatched him from RCB's grasp.
Smith, who was on a contract worth over INR 10 crores with the Rajasthan Royals last year, was undoubtedly the steal of the auction. His form last season - barring the first two games - was a major letdown, but few players boast of the experience and skill that he possesses.
Smith links up with his 2011 World Cup captain Ricky Ponting at DC, and will undoubtedly pass on his knowledge to the young core in Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw. Moreover, he'll add some stability to a middle order that previously looked a tad unsettled with both Shimron Hetmyer or Alex Carey being highly inconsistent.
DC might still field Hetmyer due to his big-hitting abilities, but they are truly spoilt for choice with Smith also in the mix.