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Which players are most valuable at IPL?

As the Indian Premier League has gone along from its inception in 2008, the one thing that has been evident is that many of the franchises in the tournament attempt to lure big-name players into their ranks so as to attract fans as well as sponsors. Over time, the need for performing stars has come to the fore though, and the focus for some is more the results that the players with the big reputations can produce rather than just the fact that they are legends of the game. So while over the years there have been many great names in the tournament, some have not lived up to expectations on the field.

This got me thinking about which IPL teams at the 2013 edition of the tournament have thus far gotten the best from their overseas internationals. The criteria by which the franchises arrive at whom they pursue at the IPL auction is not necessarily universal but one would not be too far wrong to assume that each team is after match winners so as to give themselves the best chance of actually winning the tournament. It kind of follows, therefore, that the countries that play a lot of Twenty20 cricket and are successful at it will have more players sought after. Perhaps one ought to say also that those countries' domestic tournaments need to be seen by those who select franchise players in India.

Two weeks have gone by and already there are signs that a couple of teams, namely Delhi Daredevils and Pune Warriors India, are going to struggle to make it into the play-off places due to the horrid starts they have made. An assessment of how their internationals have done reveals that they need them to do a whole lot more. In the case of Delhi Daredevils, they have some big-name players in the likes of David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Johan Botha and Morne Morkel who have not done as well as would have been expected. To place the blame at only their feet would be wrong as the likes of Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav and Ashish Nehra have been missing in action.

So, which teams have the best internationals and have they won games for them at this IPL? A look at the top end of the table would highlight the performances of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Dale Steyn, Cameron White and Thisara Perera for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kevon Cooper, Brad Hodge, James Faulkner and Shane Watson for Rajasthan Royals and Jacques Kallis, Sachithra Senanayake, Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine for Kolkata Knight Riders.

All that I have mentioned have performed well and come to mind without searching through the statistics. Their performances have been memorable thus far, but I wonder how much they cost their franchises and whether what they are producing on the park is proportional to what was forked out for each of them – can it ever be so?

In every edition of the IPL, there generally are quite a few of the big-name players who end up right at the top of the statistics tables for leading run-scorers and wicket-takers but some of the time they do not get the support necessary to pull the whole team to tournament success. One thinks of Chennai Super Kings who always start slowly but end up right up there each time – they may have the balance right; and then the opposite side of things, with Mumbai Indians who show promise at the start and fade away as the tournament goes on, despite the huge names in their ranks.

This year, there was a buzz around Mumbai as the Mumbaikers looked forward to seeing Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting playing together as what was thought to be a formidable opening partnership. In terms of box-office appeal, it certainly is, but the results on the field have been far from it. I reckon that the Sunrisers Hyderbad and Rajasthan Royals are the two teams getting best value for money at this point in time.

Is it therefore a case of having the biggest names in the team or about getting value for money on the field? Would players with less of a reputation be better to go with? Which teams do you reckon are best value and which way would you go?

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