Recalling some of the biggest overseas IPL deals that went sideways – when eye-watering deals could not translate into on-field performance.
Over the years, teams haven’t hesitated in splurging on overseas players in the IPL, some of whom have repaid the faith with their performances time and again. There are others who couldn’t justify the heavy price tags, misfiring in the limited opportunities they got.
Andrew Flintoff – Chennai Super Kings
2009 – 62 runs @ 31.00, strike-rate: 116.98; 2 wickets, economy: 9.54
Amid much fanfare in 2009, Andrew Flintoff, one of IPL’s first million-dollar men, was welcomed into the Chennai Super Kings, a side known for being thrifty in the auction. The affair lasted just three games though, as Flintoff limped out with a meniscal tear on his knee, and was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.
IPL founder Lalit Modi later claimed that the auction was rigged to allow CSK to buy Flintoff, and that “he shouldn’t have let it happen”. Six years later, headlines quoted Flintoff calling IPL “a waste of time”, saying, “It’s simply that the team [CSK] didn’t mean so much to me.”
Tymal Mills – Royal Challengers Bangalore
2017 – 5 wickets, economy: 8.58
RCB roped in Tymal Mills to solve their long-standing death-bowling woes, and they were willing to spend a fortune – Mills went for a whopping INR 12 crores (roughly $1.6 million). Known to crank up speeds of over 150kph and employ the slower ball cleverly at the death, Mills played in five games, picking up five wickets at an economy rate of 8.58. That’s INR 2.4 crore for every wicket. A costly deal, whichever way you look at it.
Richard Levi – Mumbai Indians
2012 – 83 runs @ 13.83, strike-rate: 113.69
When 24-year-old Richard Levi, fresh off becoming the then-fastest T20I centurion, was signed up as a replacement player for Andrew Symonds, Mumbai Indians fans would have been eager to see Sachin Tendulkar’s newest opening partner in action. He blazed his way to a 35-ball fifty in his first game, but could only manage 33 runs in his next five innings, 29 of which came in one game. Later that year, he was released by Mumbai, never to play an IPL game again.
Mashrafe Mortaza – Kolkata Knight Riders
2009 – no wickets, economy: 14.50
The tussle to capture Mashrafe Mortaza in the 2009 auction seemed to have more action than his entire IPL career combined – bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for a whopping $600,000, Mortaza was supposed to play a key hand for the team, while also extending KKR’s popularity in Bangladesh. It all came crashing down when a young Rohit Sharma took him apart, plundering 21 runs in a last-over chase. Mortaza ended with figures of 0-58 on debut, and never added to his IPL caps.
Glenn Maxwell – Delhi Daredevils
2018 – 169 runs @ 14.08, strike-rate: 140.83
The hype around Glenn Maxwell reaches a crescendo every IPL auction, but the all-rounder has failed to justify his hefty price tags more often than not. Only twice in seven completed seasons has he managed over 300 runs, and one of his more underwhelming performances came for Delhi Daredevils, who re-signed him in 2018, six years after giving him his maiden IPL gig.
Costing INR 9 crore ($1.2 million or thereabouts), Maxwell managed 169 runs, failing to score a single fifty. Next year, he pulled out of the auction to focus on the 2019 World Cup.
Angelo Mathews – Delhi Daredevils
2015 – 144 runs @ 20.57; 7 wickets, economy: 8.20
2017 – 32 runs @ 16.00; 0 wickets, economy: 11.20
Sri Lanka’s premier all-rounder has been a scratchy overseas IPL player over the years – in 42 innings, he’s managed just one fifty-plus score. He was part of the Daredevils line-up twice, in 2015 and 2017, where he averaged 20.57 and 16.00, managing 176 runs in 12 innings combined. With the ball, he took seven wickets in 30 overs in 2015, but went wicketless in three games in 2017, ending a sub-par outing despite the franchise having shelled INR 7.5 crore on him in 2015, and INR 2 crores two years later.
2018 – 63 runs @ 12.60, strike-rate: 153.66
2019 – 84 runs @ 21.00, strike-rate: 120.00
A batsman with three T20I centuries, Munro looked the perfect fit to be atop an IPL scorecard, but just three innings and 30 runs in, he was let go by Kolkata Knight Riders. His second IPL outing came with the Delhi Capitals, for INR 1.9 crore, but only played nine games across two seasons in 2018 and 2019. Trying to make his mark in Delhi’s domestic-heavy top order, Munro failed to go past 40 in two seasons, managing measly season aggregates of 63 and 84. His IPL career average currently stands at 14.75.