The Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off again this April, as cricket’s most lucrative tournament returns for its 10th year.
The annual auction took place in Bengaluru, India, last month where the eight franchises battled it out for the services of the world’s best players.
We take a look at the five most expensive signings in this year’s IPL auction and predict how they are going to fare in this year’s competition.
1. Ben Stokes – 145 million INR (£1.7m)
Team: Rising Pune Supergiants
Ben Stokes described as “complete carnage” the moment when he became the most expensive foreign player in this year’s competition.
Stokes will offer immense power hitting in the middle to latter overs, as well as being able to bowl effectively. Not forgetting the fact he is one of the best fielders in the world, with a bullet throw and bucket hands.
He is charismatic, powerful and fiery and has all the ingredients needed to be an IPL hit.
Stokes does not have fond memories of India though thanks to a poor 2016 World Cup. But if he can cope with the pressure being Pune’s main man, then expect him to be back with a vengeance.
2. Tymal Mills – 120 million INR (£1.4m)
Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore
£1.4m seems a lot to pay for a man that almost quit the game two years ago and has only played four T20 internationals, but Mills’ form and his variation has earned him a life-changing IPL contract.
This has allowed him to focus on the short game and become a real T20 specialist. We saw evidence of this when England were in India earlier this year as Mills really caught the eye with some superb short spells, picking up a wicket in each of the three matches he played.
Mills’ slower ball is currently one of the most effective deliveries in T20 cricket, with numerous batsmen struggling to pick it.
The Sussex man has the ability to turn his arm around just before release that sends the ball down at about 60 mph, instead of 90 mph, without changing his arm speed.
If Mills can cope with the pressure of India and reproduce some of the form we have seen from him in an England shirt of late, then RCB may have just signed themselves a trump card for this year’s competition.
3. Kagiso Rabada – 50 million INR (£600,000)
Team: Delhi Daredevils
Rabada is seen as the most exciting talent to emerge from South Africa in years and is currently one of the best young players in world cricket. So it was no surprise that Dehli made him the third most expensive signing in the tournament.
They had to fend of fierce competition from Kings XI Punjab for his signature. But at just 21 years old, he is already one of the leaders of the South African attack and is constantly in and around 90 mph, so it was easy to see why Dehli were so determined to recruit him.
For such a young man, Rabada has had plenty of T20 experience, including games against England and Australia, as well as leading the attack for South Africa at the 2016 World T20 in India.
His versatility will certainly play in Dehli’s favour; he can open the bowling well, bowl through the middle overs with control, or even bowl at the death if needed.
And with the help of his fellow South Africans JP Duminy, Chris Morris and Quinton De Kock, who are all in the Daredevils squad, he should be able to settle in and hit the ground running.
4. Trent Boult – 50 million (£600,000)
Team: Kolkata Knight Riders
Trent Boult’s hefty fee may have raised a few eyebrows considering he has not established himself as much in T20 cricket as he has in Tests and ODIs. He’s also injury prone, and featured just once in the IPL last season.
The Knight Riders are another side that have invested heavily in their seam attack and have also added Englishmen Chris Woakes to compliment Boult.
Boult and Woakes have been tipped to be an effective bowling partnership for Kolkata, given their styles and right-hand left-hand combination
Manish Pandey, one of KKR’s star batsmen, is the latest to heap praise on the pair. “These two players, Woakes and Boult, will be really good and they will hopefully make the difference for us’.’
5. Pat Cummins – 45 million INR (£550,000)
Team: Delhi Daredevils
Cummins is young and possesses raw pace, often above 90 mph, which is crucial in T20 cricket at both the start and the end of an innings.
The fast bowler was particularly impressive in his maiden Big Bash season, where he topped the bowling charts with 11 wickets at just 14.09 a piece.
This kind of form, combined with his raw pace and potential, were all culminating factors as to why Dehli paid 4.5 Crore Rupees for his services making him the 5th most expensive player in this year’s competition.
He will certainly be one to watch out for.