IPL: Big Bucks, Small Returns
Is it not imperative that after investing millions on something a good return is expected? The same applies to the sports arena. You pay big for a star and expect him to shine.
There are manifold examples of expensive 'flops' in recent sporting history. Manchester United dished out a bomb to acquire Bulgarian Dimitri Berbatov from Tottenham. So did Chelsea for Andriy Shevchenko (from AC Milan) and Real Madrid for Fabio Canavarro (from Juventus). These packages haven't yielded the desired results.
On a broader scale, Roman Abramovic spent a sizeable amount to acquire players and still Chelsea couldn't win the Premier League in the first season of his ownership. Same for Vladimir Romanov for Scottish club Hearts, the feeble competition in the latter league notwithstanding.
Closer home, Brian Lara failed to justify his top billing in the Indian Cricket League and Chris Cairns was an equally big disappointment.
Similary in the inaugural season of the IPL, there were some players who failed to justify their top billing or their huge price tags. Some of them who spring to mind immediately are Mohammad Kaif (Rajasthan Royals), Stephen Fleming (Chennai Super Kings), Ishant Sharma (Kolkata Knight Riders), Jacques Kallis (Bangalore Royal Challengers).
The above examples reiterate the fact is that most of the high-buys in the IPL's second auction have struggled to justify their worth.
Now that the tournament is midway through, Rediff.com assesses the performances of the costliest players in the second season and finds out that they are not worth the price they came at.
Image: IPL check list
Kevin Pietersen (Bangalore Royal Challengers)
Cost price: US $1.55 million (Rs 7.5 crore)
Best Figures: 2/31
Economy Rate: 6.53
Vijay Mallya's biggest and most-hyped purchase turned out to be the biggest flop of the second season of the IPL. Asked to lead Bangalore Royal Challengers after their disastrous showing last year, Pietersen came up way short both as leader and batsman.
He returned to England after six matches and a sorry showing in his debut season, which saw him aggregate a meagre 93 runs in six matches. Under his captaincy, the team looked heading for disaster as they went on a losing streak after winning their first match against Rajasthan Royals.
But after giving him a send-off with victory in his last match, it is looking a completely different unit altogether. Since his departure, Anil Kumble seems to have taken the team to a different level and after three successive wins Royal Challengers now appears in contention for a semi-finals berth.
Image: Kevin Pietersen
Andrew Flintoff (Chennai Super Kings)
Cost price: US $1.55 million (Rs 7.5 crore)
Best Figures: 1/11
Economy Rate: 9.54
Performance appraisal: 3/10
Without doubt, the biggest disappointment, along with countryman Kevin Pietersen, in the second season of the Indian Premier League, Flintoff had last year, in an interview to rediff.com, said the IPL is not an option for English players.
He should have done well to stick to that view and not reassessed his priorities.
In the tournament opener, newcomer Abhishek Nayar was particularly severe on him, blasting 22 runs, including three sixes in one over. It was mainly due to Nayar's assault on the Englishman (4-0-44-1) -- an over that went for 22 -- that Mumbai Indians could surpass the 150-run mark in a match Chennai lost by 19 runs.
Take that one over out of the equation and you know what we mean.
In the next match against Bangalore Royal Challengers, Flintoff was a tad better, his figures (3-0-11-1) playing a role in his side's victory.
But any hopes of a revival were soon doused in the third match against Delhi Daredevils -- his four overs costing Chennai a whopping 50, his penultimate over going for 22 runs -- 21 by AB de Villiers. And, to top it all, he failed to take a single wicket.
With the bat he did a tad better, his 24 off 23 balls against Mumbai and his unbeaten 22 from 13 deliveries vs Bangalore being decent contributions vis-a-vis his bowling efforts.
And three matches was all he played. A recurring knee problem meant he could take no further part in the tournament.
And despite coach Stephen Fleming saying Flintoff was a "good influence" on the Chennai Super Kings, it is not difficult to judge that these were mere words of consolation.
Image: Andrew Flintoff
JP Duminy (Mumbai Indians)
Cost price: US $950, 000 (Rs 4.65 crore)
Best Figures: 1/23
Economy Rate: 7.66
JP Duminy arrived for the Indian Premier League with an enhanced reputation following his exploits for the South African national team.
Mumbai Indians' owners knew his worth, so they waited patiently till his name came up at the auction.
But they were criticized in many circles for shelling out such a large sum for a player who is a relative newcomer.
Duminy had a tentative start -- scoring only nine against Chennai in the opener, though he finished on the winning side. He followed up that up with a 40-ball 47 against Hyderabad and 18 against Kolkata, both knocks hardly awe-inspiring. Even during his 59 of 63 balls against Punjab he failed to play a single convincing shot.
However, his 52 not out off 37 balls in Mumbai Indians' nine-run win over Kolkata was definitely a class act. The encore (1) against Bangalore though was equally erratic.
It is still too early to term Duminy as a success or failure (as he is still playing). However, what we can definitely say is the start has been anything but convincing. Or do we say topsy-turvy?
Image: JP Duminy
Mashrafe Mortaza (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Cost price: US $600, 000 (Rs 2.94 crore)
(Yet to play this season)
One of the biggest puzzles of the IPL this season is Mashrafe Mortaza.
Kolkata Knight Riders are going from bad to worse in the tournament, and yet the player they paid the most this season is cooling his heels on the sidelines.
The 25-year-old fast bowler, bought for US$ 600,000, went for 12 times his base price of $50,000 after a fierce bidding war between the franchisees that lasted nearly 25 minutes. Yet he hasn't got a chance to deliver.
Mortaza has led the Bangladesh bowling with great distinction over the last few years and is also a handy batsman lower down the order. What is surprising is that some KKR players continue to be in the playing eleven despite failing to perform.
All their top bowlers -- Ajit Agarkar (2 wickets in 5 matches at 47.50), Ashok Dinda (3 wickets in 6 matches at 45.00) and Murali Kartik (1 wickets in 5 matches at 96) have flopped so far.
Even the unknown Australian Moises Henriques, who got a couple of games and scored 6 runs and bagged a wicket, is being preferred ahead of Mortaza.
If Kolkata Knight Riders, who languish at the bottom, want to reverse the trend they must seriously consider playing Mortaza and partnering him with the impressive Ishant Sharma.
Image: Mashrafe Mortaza
Ravi Bopara (King's XI Punjab)
Cost price: US $450, 000 (Rs 2.20 crore)
Best Figures: 0/5
Economy Rate: 3.75
A blazing 84 from 59 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and five sixes, was Ravi Bopara's lone contribution to the Punjab cause.
Kings XI beat Royal Challengers Bangalore convincingly in that match, their first victory in the tournament after two straight defeats.
But all his other performances were disappointing, to say the least, be it his 22 against Delhi, 15 against Kolkata, 11 against Rajasthan or six against Mumbai.
And though the England player said playing in the IPL was "one of the best things" he has done in life, his team owners could be thinking whether they made the right choice in buying him for such a high price.
However, it is all thanks to the IPL (and to an extent Andrew Flintoff's unavailability which gave him a chance in the first place), that the 23-year-old Essex all-rounder has been asked to fill the third position in England's batting order ahead of more experienced candidates Owais Shah, Ian Bell and former captain Michael Vaughan.
Hopefully, he does for England what he couldn't do for Punjab, for the country's requirement is far more desperate.
Image: Ravi Bopara
Jesse Ryder (Bangalore Royal Challengers)
Cost price: US $160, 000 (Rs 78.4 lakh)
Best Figures: 2/14
Economy Rate: 6.92
He was New Zealand's biggest success story -- in all three formats -- during India's recent tour.
And that made aficionados say, Bangalore owner Vijay Mallya secured a prized catch at a visibly lower price.
But has Jesse Ryder managed to live up to the burden of expectations?
Well, the answer, thus far, is a big negative.
A second-ball duck in the opener against Rajasthan was followed by a first ball nought against Hyderabad.
He did make 32 against Kings XI but his effort went in vain as Punjab won the match without breaking a sweat. And in the second match against Punjab, he managed just two.
Though the New Zealand all-rounder will be available throughout the tournament, at the moment, even $160, 000 seems too much for him.
Image: Jesse Ryder
Tyron Henderson (Rajasthan Royals)
Cost price: US $650, 000 (Rs 3.18 crore)
Best Figures: 1/30
Economy Rate: 7.50
Tyron Henderson came to the IPL with a big reputation -- as one of the most dangerous players in Twenty20 cricket. Rajasthan Royals paid him a whopping US $650,000 which was more than six times his base price.
After all, the 34-year-old all-rounder had played a leading role in helping Middlesex win the Twenty20 Cup last year. However, he is yet to impress Shane Warne at Rajasthan Royals, having played just one match in the tournament so far. Clearly, team owners Shilpa Shetty & Co must be wondering whether he is worth it.
Image: Tyron Henderson
Paul Collingwood (Delhi Daredevils)
Cost price: US $275,000 (Rs 1.34 crore)
(Did not play a single match)
Paul Collingwood must consider himself really unlucky not have played a single match for Delhi Daredevils.
Named England captain for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup, he spent six matches on the bench before returning to his country for the Test series against the West Indies.
Delhi were reluctant to shuffle their foreign players -- restricted to four per game -- and persisted with those doing well.
It is really strange that after spending so much money on the all-rounder they did not give him a single opportunity. His only consolation could be the fact that even Australian legend Glenn McGrath has not managed to break into the team.
Image: Paul Collingwood
Owais Shah (Delhi Daredevils)
Cost price: US $275, 000 (Rs 1.34 crore)
(Yet to play a match)
Owais Shah also continues to be another English player relegated to the Delhi Daredevils bench.
The England batsman came into the tournament with a reputation of a big hitter after his performances in the ODI series in India last year. But with all the five foreign recruits whom Delhi have tried out performing at every given opportunity, Shah has found it hard to break into the side.
He hasn't been selected for the Test series against the West Indies which means he will be staying back for the rest of the matches and could well still turn out for Delhi.
Image: Owais Shah
Dwayne Smith (Deccan Chargers)
Cost price: US $140, 000 (Rs 68.6 lakh)
Economy Rate: 10.25
The West Indies all-rounder also made a fortune after pocketing a cool 68.6 lakh in the players' auction for the second season. But, going by his performances in the few matches he played so far, he hasn't quite lived up to expectations but is showing signs of finding his peak form in the last couple of matches.
He blazed his way to 49 off 23 deliveries in a losing cause against Chennai Super Kings to follow up on the 48 he smashed against Delhi Daredevils earlier, but besides that he hasn't risen to the occasion with the bat. With the ball, too, he was found wanting, wicketless in five matches so far, conceding 82 runs in eight matches.
Image: Dwayne Smith
Thilan Thushara (Chennai Super Kings)
Cost price: US $140, 000 (Rs 68.6 lakh)
Best Figures: 1/32
Economy Rate: 8.00
Left-arm fast bowler Thilan Thushara Mirando has not played much international cricket for Sri Lanka, so it was a surprise when Chennai agreed to pay around Rs 68 lakh for his services.
And with such a strong line-up of foreign players in their team one knew he would find it difficult to make it to the playing eleven. He played only one game for Chennai and took one for 32 in his four overs.
Clearly, the huge price tag is not justified.
Image: Thilan Thushara
Kyle Mills (Mumbai Indians)
Cost price: US $150, 000 (Rs 73.5 lakh)
(Yet to play a match)
He is probably an ace in Mumbai Indians' pack yet to be used.
Mumbai Indians was missing Shaun Pollock as he refused to sign a contract extension. But they got Kyle Mills instead.
The New Zealander is available to play the entire tournament and has come cheap as well.
And his pedigree is a proven one in the shorter format of the game. While he can bowl at a decent pace and, more importantly, take wickets when needed, he is no mug with the bat either, being able to get vital runs as and when the situation demands.
So what keeps Mumbai Indians from trying him out is a question that is begging an answer.
Even an unknown entity like Graham Napier has got his chance.
Image: Kyle Mills
Jerome Taylor (Kings XI Punjab)
Cost price: US $150,000 (Rs 73.5 lakh)
(Yet to play a match)
The West Indian is, what can be termed, a 'forced buy'. The Kings XI owners were keen on Bangladesh pacer Mashrafe Mortaza and went all out but without success.
However, with Brett Lee out injured and S Sreesanth warming the seats as a mere 'supporter', they might as well have utilized the services of Taylor, who is quite a potent force up front.
But, as things stand, Taylor will have to return without playing a single game, as the West Indies-England series will be underway soon.
Image: Jerome Taylor