Around the time of the 2017 IPL auctions, not many people around the world would successfully recall the name of bowler Jaydev Unadkat, even though he had been around for ages!
Unadkat made an unsuccessful Test debut in 2010, going wicket-less in that particular Test. His 2013 ODI debut was also a damp squib. Even in his international T20 debut, he went wicket-less and that too against a team like Zimbabwe.
Unadkat's luck changed in the year-ending 2017 T20 series in Sri Lanka where he took just 4 wickets and was declared the man of the series.
What's so special in that, you may ask! Well, he gave just 44 runs in 9 overs which works out to an economy rate of 4.9, which is great even by ODIs standards!
You'd think that people would notice that little fact and they did. The timing was right and the IPL auctions were around the corner and at least two franchises seemed interested and what followed seemed a scene straight out of a Bollywood movie.
You knew something was up when a generally serene Nita Ambani of the Mumbai Indians seemed animated when Unadkat's name was announced. But her team didn't bid and there was an eerie silence from the franchisees as the auctioneer kept announcing his name to no avail.
So it was Chennai Super Kings that started the bidding process and Kings XI Punjab soon out-bidded them. It was Rs 150 lakhs and then 160 and then a war started between poker-faced Stephen Fleming of CSK and a very animated Preity Zinta of KXIP.
It was fun to see them outdo each other in quick succession and 180 became 200 which became 220, 240, 260… all the way till 820 after which was a long pause.
If you thought it ended there then it didn't and went all the way to 1100 at which Fleming waved his hand across his neck to say they were ending their bids.
Just when you thought that Preity got her way at Rs 1100 lakhs, the most poker-faced of the franchise bidders, from the Rajasthan Royals, bid 1150!
Just like that, from out of nowhere! Preity was taken aback and after a team conference backed off. So RR bagged Unadkat with the littlest of drama from their side!
Preity had shot to the limelight on Day 1 bidding for almost everything and ready to pay any price and Virender Sehwag had Tweeted then…
Ladkiyon ko shopping ka shock hota hai. Preity full on shopping ke mood mein hain. Har cheez khareedni hai
But this was one battle that Preity finally lost and Unadkat created history in IPL 2018 by becoming the most expensive Indian player at the auctions.
For those interested in numerology, his number was 150, his base price was 150 lakhs and he finally went for 1150 lakhs!
Even though Unadkat made both his IPL and international debut in 2010, he got international fame at the end of 2017 and IPL fame at the beginning of 2018.
For the record, Unadkat has played with Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers, Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiant.
He has already picked up 56 wickets in 46 matches, but the IPL expectations on him will be huge in 2018.
His name is Gowtham Krishnappa: Unadkat wasn't the only surprise sprung by RR. Krishnappa is another name not heard by many people.
This 29-year-old spinner is a first class player from Karnataka and was in the Mumbai Indians squad in 2017 and didn't play a single game so he's yet to make his IPL debut.
In domestic T20s, he has 20 wickets in 27 matches and his base price for IPL 2018 was just Rs 20 lakh. Nobody expected him to make splash, but he went for a whopping Rs 6.20 crores or something that’s 31 times his base price! He even outdoes Unadkat in that department!
RR also got wicket-keeper Sanju Samson at Rs 8 crores and all-rounder West Indian Jofra Archer for Rs 7.2 crores, Australian all-rounder D'Arcy Short for Rs 4 crores.
It is clear that RR is looking for the unknown ‘X’ factor this time in IPL and it remains to be seen whether that will succeed under the tried and tested captain Steve Smith.
Of emperors and paupers: Many unknown and unsung players have made crores and IPL can easily make emperors out of paupers, but it also goes the other way round.
Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander are probably the most fearsome opening fast bowling attack in international cricket, but so far they are unsold at IPL.
Lasith Malinga will sometimes drive batsmen crazy with his non-stop yorkers while Angelo Mathews is Sri Lanka's best all-rounder.
Hashim Amla is the Mr. Dependable of international cricket while Shaun Marsh a rising star. But all of them went unsold.
The focus is also on youth as seen by the under-19 Indian star Kamlesh Nagarkoti getting Rs 3.2 crore. However, for players like Irfan Pathan, it appears that their IPL careers are over.
That way Chris Gayle (KXIP), Yuvraj Singh (KXIP) and Murali Vijay (CSK) could be called relatively lucky. They got their base price of Rs 2 crores and will at least play in IPL 2018.
Three Indians have led their teams to two IPL wins: MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir. While the former two are treated like kings, Gambhir was let go even though 2017 was his best season in terms of batting averages: 498 runs at 41.5.
But then he at least Gambhir got Rs 2.8 crores (DD) and a chance to play in IPL 2018.