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Indian Premier League

Five relative unknowns who picked up massive IPL deals after starring against India

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Cam Green’s performances in the recent T20I series against India have prompted conversations on his potential IPL price in the next season of the T20 competition.

Over the years, a number of international stars have come into focus, striking lucrative IPL deals after putting up impressive performances against India. The players in question might have been plying their trade in different forms of cricket, but really burst onto the horizon when they troubled India and then got rewarded with a contract in the cash-rich event.

Here are five players who struck gold.


Sunil Narine – Kolkata Knight Riders, 2012

Narine’s first ODI series was against India in 2011, arguably a tour that turned around his career. Though he picked up only three wickets in three games, his skills left a mark on Gautam Gambhir, who had been named Kolkata Knight Riders’ skipper in 2011.

Gambhir later revealed Narine had troubled him throughout the series and was adamant the bowler had to be picked by the franchise ahead of the 2012 season. In a conversation with the owners ahead of the auction, Gambhir was quoted as saying, “If the limit is two million, go to two million. We don’t need anyone else [except Narine].” The side eventually bought Narine for USD 2.4 million.

Kolkata Knight Riders managed to clinch the IPL crown for the first time in 2012, with Narine bagging 24 wickets and the Most Valuable Player award. He grabbed more than 20 wickets in the next two editions as well, also helping the team win the trophy in 2014. He has stuck with the team since then.

Odeon Smith – Punjab Kings, 2022

Big-hitting Smith came to India this year after playing three ODIs against Ireland. He had scored 18 in 8, 46 in 19, and 20* in 10, and grabbed three wickets. His impact in T20Is had not been as significant – since his debut in 2018, Smith managed to score 49 runs in four innings prior to travelling to India. Yet, his big-hitting prowess was well-known, and the timing of the series – just a few days ahead of the 2022 mega-auction – allowed Smith the opportunity to shine.

In the second ODI, Smith picked up 2-29, and blasted a 20-ball 24 from No.9. In the next game, he got another wicket and top-scored with an 18-ball 36. The auction, held right after the India-West Indies ODI series, saw Smith in high demand. Bought by Punjab Kings for INR 6 crore, he could not impress in the tournament, scoring 51 runs in six matches and picking up six scalps at an average of nearing 30.

Sam Curran – Punjab Kings, 2019

Curran made his Test debut against Pakistan at Leeds in 2018, but it was in the series against India later that summer that got him into the spotlight. In four Test matches, he scored 272 runs with two fifties and two forties, and grabbed 11 wickets. A thorn in the flesh for the Indians, Curran ended as England’s Player of the Series, helping England win 4-1.

His heroics were remembered by IPL owners, who engaged in an intense bidding war for the youngster in the auction for the 2019 IPL. He was eventually bought by Punjab Kings for INR 7.2 crore. That year, he secured a hat-trick, but ended with average numbers – 95 runs and 10 wickets in nine games.

Kyle Jamieson – Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2021

The lanky quick made his Test and ODI debuts against India at home in 2020, and troubled batters throughout with his awkward bounce. He picked up nine wickets in two Test matches, and made 44 and 49 in low-scoring matches. He was economical in the ODIs as well, where he grabbed three wickets in two games. He won the Player of the Match award on debut, for his 2-42 and unbeaten 25.

All this piqued the interest of IPL team owners, who went all out for him when the auctions were held in 2021. The batting abilities were a bonus, and he was eventually bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping INR 15 crore. However, he failed to live up to the expectations, taking nine wickets at an economy rate of 9.60.

Tymal Mills – Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2017

Mills hogged the limelight during the India-England T20I series in 2017, which had taken place a few weeks before the auctions that year. He went for INR 12 crore, 24 times his base price to end as the most expensive bowler in the auction till then.

Playing his second T20I series, Mills took only three wickets in India in early 2017, but what stood out was his economy rate and his death bowling skills. With Royal Challengers Bangalore parting ways with Mitchell Starc a few days before the auctions, they were on the lookout for an overseas quick. The timing of England’s series against India helped him ink a massive deal.

Mills, however, was a letdown, picking up five wickets at an average of 30.60.

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