Forget Kohli, Lynn or Stokes - Five bargain-bin buys set to star in IPL 2018

As IPL 2018 begins, all the focus will be on the big-money buys. But which stars, bought on the cheap, could be worth their weight in gold?

Could these five prove the bargains of IPL 2018?   -  Getty Images

The Indian Premier League is back, along with its usual razzmatazz and the customary combination of fireworks, destructive batting, skilful bowling and a large helping of big-name stars.

But with a high profile comes a hefty price tag, and the likes of Virat Kohli, Ben Stokes and MS Dhoni have cost their respective franchises a pretty penny.

That much-vaunted trio will be among a host of superstars expected to perform and earn their lucrative deals, with Kohli the most expensive player in the auction after Royal Challengers Bangalore parted with an eye-watering $2.65million to retain the services of the India captain.

But what of those men picked up for relative chump change?

Ahead of the 2018 opener between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, we identify five players who cost little but could prove to be worth their weight in gold.

 

Tim Southee, Royal Challengers Bangalore, $156,000

Fresh from teaming up with Trent Boult to terrorise England in New Zealand's Test series win, Southee will switch his attentions to the shortest format with RCB. A canny operator with ball in hand and more than capable of clearing the ropes with the bat, Southee - at less than a tenth of the price of the likes of Stokes - could prove himself a useful customer for a side that finished bottom of the table last season.

 

Imran Tahir, Chennai Super Kings, $156,000

The South Africa leg-spinner has become famed for his...shall we say, "enthusiastic" celebrations, but those on-field antics should not detract from a man who consistently bamboozles batsmen in white-ball cricket. Tahir has 57 wickets at less than 16 in Twenty20 internationals, while his economy rate of just 6.8 means he should be a force to be reckoned with for CSK, who return to the IPL after a two-year suspension due to corruption charges.

 

Colin Munro, Delhi Daredevils, $296,000

It is somewhat surprising that a man with three hundreds in T20Is - more than any other player - should come so cheap. Munro's T20 runs for the Black Caps come at a strike rate of over 163, making him one of the most destructive batsmen in the world game. Indian fans should be all-too aware of the left-hander's talent - the second of his T20 centuries came against Kohli's men in Rajkot last year, when the opener blasted seven sixes and as many fours in a 58-ball 109.

 

Ben Laughlin, Rajasthan Royals, $78,000

The cheapest of our bargain-buy quintet, Laughlin arrives with a formidable reputation thanks to his status as the Big Bash League's all-time leading wicket taker. He claimed 16 of those scalps in the 2017-18 season as Adelaide Strikers earned their maiden title and the Royals - like CSK, returning after suspension - may find that the former Australia international will provide real value for money.

 

Mohammad Nabi, Sunrisers Hyderabad, $156,000

Rashid Khan may be the poster boy of Afghanistan cricket, commanding a fee of $1.4m in the auction, but Nabi's performances in the BBL with Melbourne Renegades proved the Blue Tigers have more than one star. Nabi picked up eight wickets and conceded his runs at just 5.76 per over with his wily off-breaks. He is also a more than useful middle-order player, with a best of 89 in T20Is, while his runs come at a strike rate just shy of 140.