The Indian Premier League (IPL) has served as a stage for talented cricketers worldwide to make a name for themselves with their cricketing skills. The IPL is not only the most-followed T20 league on the planet, but it is also the most profitable.
Franchises spend enormous amounts to sign players at the auction and cricketers have often preferred to play in the IPL over international matches.
While the team owners expect every player to bring their 'A' game to the table in the IPL, not everyone is able to deliver instantaneous success. Many expensive signings have failed to justify their price tags in the last 13 years.
At the same time, some underrated stars have impressed the fans with their consistency. The most prestigious prize for an individual in the IPL is the 'Most Valuable Player of the Season' award.
The organizers have prepared a unique player rating system, wherein the cricketers earn points for scoring boundaries, bowling dot deliveries, picking up catches, taking catches, and executing stumpings. The cricketer with the most points at the end of the season takes home the MVP award.
Winning the IPL MVP award is a tough task, even for the most established of players, but three cricketers have accomplished this feat in their very first season.
3. Shane Watson - IPL 2008
The inaugural edition of the IPL saw star players like Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, VVS Laxman, Adam Gilchrist, Sanath Jayasuriya, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid participate in the mega event
It was Australia's all-rounder Shane Watson who beat everyone to win the IPL Man of the Series award. At the time, the IPL did not have a specific rating system for the MVP points table. The organizers adjudged Watson as the Man of the Tournament for scoring 472 runs in 15 innings at an incredible batting average of 47.20.
Watson also bowled 54.1 overs for the Rajasthan Royals in that season, in which he picked up 17 wickets at an economy rate of 7.07. His all-round excellence helped RR win the inaugural IPL championship.
2. Sunil Narine - IPL 2012
Caribbean all-rounder Sunil Narine came into the limelight in the Champions League T20 competition. His fantastic bowling performances for Trinidad and Tobago helped him secure a lucrative IPL contract ahead of the 2012 season.
The Kolkata Knight Riders fought an intense bidding war at the 2012 auction to secure Narine's services. The decision to sign Narine proved to be a masterstroke for the Kolkata-based franchise. He ended the 2012 season as the MVP after his brilliant bowling helped KKR to their first IPL title.
Narine played 15 matches for the Knight Riders, returning with 24 wickets at an economy rate of 5.48. He was not an established all-rounder then, but Narine did enough with the ball to take the Man of the Series trophy home.
1. Ben Stokes - IPL 2017
IPL fans had to wait until the 2017 season to see English all-rounder Ben Stokes playing in the league. Stokes had cemented his position as one of the best all-rounders in the world, which convinced the Rising Pune Supergiant to splurge ₹14.5 Crore to acquire his services at the 2017 auction.
Stokes became the most expensive overseas signing in IPL Auction history. He justified his price tag with 270 MVP points in his debut season. Although he only played 12 matches, Stokes scored more points than any other cricketer in IPL 2017.
The New Zealand-born all-rounder amassed 316 runs for Pune at a strike rate of 142.99. He even scalped 12 wickets at an economy rate of 7.18. Stokes played a crucial role in Pune's journey to the summit clash. Unfortunately, he was unavailable for the final against the Mumbai Indians, and his team suffered a defeat.