Another auction of Indian Premier (IPL) League is upon us, and if the initial buzz is an indication, the 2018 auction is set to be a money-spinner like never before. A total of 578 players — pruned from the initial longlist of 1122 names — will go under the hammer on 27 and 28 January in Bengaluru.
Over the years, franchises have broken the bank to go for players of their choice. While players such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have lived up to their top billing, a number of players have failed to justify their prices.
Ahead of the auctions, let’s take a look at some of the high-priced players who flopped in the IPL:
A day after he was picked as the fourth spinner in India’s World T20 squad in 2016, Delhi Daredevils bought him for Rs. 8.5 crore, the highest for an uncapped Indian player. The Delhi all-rounder wasn’t even a certainty in his first-class team at the time of the auction, and it was barely surprising that the left-hander couldn’t quite live up to his astronomical price tag.
He scored a total of 57 runs with the highest score of 19*. His bowling figures weren’t any better, as he went for 84 runs in nine overs picking up only one wicket. Safe to say, Negi remains one of the biggest flops of the IPL.
England’s Ashes hero was thought to be a natural selection for a T20 side, given his charismatic personality, big-hitting prowess and the ability to bowl at high pace. Hence, being picked by Chennai Super Kings in 2009 was of little surprise.
However, beset by injury and indifferent form, Flintoff had a forgettable IPL stint and proved to be a major drain on CSK coffers. The burly Englishman could play only three matches before meniscus tear in his knee ended his IPL season. He managed 62 runs at a strike rate of 116.98, and could pick just two wickets. Later, he confessed to feeling no emotional attachment with the Chennai-based outfit, which further explains his dismal returns.
One of the cleanest strikers of the ball, it came as little surprise that Yuvraj Singh sparked a bidding war in 2015. He was eventually bought by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 16 crore, but did little to justify the price tag.
He ended up being one of the biggest flops of the season, managing just 248 runs from 14 matches at an average of less than 19.07 at a modest strike rate of 118.09 in 2015 season.
This, however, was not the only season where Yuvraj flopped after being bought for a hefty amount. In 2014, Royal Challengers Bangalore picked him for Rs 14 crore, but the southpaw failed again, mustering only 376 runs from 14 matches. Yuvraj played the previous two editions for Sunrisers Hyderabad, featuring in important cameos for the team during their title-winning run in 2016.
He didn't have a very successful 2017 in terms of runs — scoring only 252 runs from 12 matches — but his strike rate of 142.37 is his second-highest since the maiden IPL season when he scaled the strike-rate of 162.50 for Kings XI Punjab. Some big franchises might still be interested in him, but it's doubtful if they will still bid as high as they did for him in 2014 and 2015.
Out-of-favour wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik drew second highest price at the 2014 auction — 12.5 crore, after Yuvraj Singh — and like Singh, Karthik could only flatter to deceive.
His 14 appearances yielded only 325 runs, and a strike rate of 125.96 was surely not what Delhi Daredevils — the franchise that bought him — were hoping for.
Sure enough, Karthik was not retained next year and was snapped by Royal Challengers Bangalore for an impressive 10.5 crore. He again failed to justify his price and did even worse — 141 runs from 16 matches at an unimpressive strike-rate of 120.51. Over the past two seasons, Karthik has turned out for Gujarat Lions, a franchise that ceases to exist with the return of Rajasthan Royals and Rising Pune Supergiant. In 30 matches that he played over the course of two seasons for Gujarat Lions, Karthik scored 696 runs at a strike-rate of 132.65.
He enters the 2018 auction afresh and is set to face stiff competition from a host of young wicket-keeping talents such as Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant, Ishant Kishan, among others.
Another big buy by Delhi Daredevils in 2014 whose performance didn’t match the price was Kevin Pietersen. The Englishman was bought for Rs 9 crore, but returned with 294 runs from 11 matches at an average of 29.40.
In fact, Pietersen's IPL career started going downhill post 2014; he was picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad at his base price of Rs 2 crore, and the franchise agreed to release him for the initial matches to play domestic cricket in England and press for a national comeback.
However, his return was scuppered by a calf injury, and he didn't play a single IPL match that season. He was bought by Rising Pune Supergiant for Rs 3.5 crore next year but had to return home after sustaining a tear in the calf muscle. He opted out of the 2017 auction, but it's to say that KP remains one of the biggest flops of the league.