With the Pro Kabaddi League reaching the halfway stage, we look at how the five most expensive buys have fared in the season so far.
Have the teams earned good returns on their big investments?
Nitin Tomar (UP Yoddha, 93 Lakhs)
Tomar was the costliest player at the auction on the back of his match-turning cameo in the World Cup final against Iran in Ahmedabad last year. After a slow start to the season, Tomar is coming into his own and is seventh on the list of players with most points this season, scoring 79 points in 12 matches.
He will, however, have to significantly improve that tally in the remaining ten matches if he has to help UP Yoddha's progress to the knockouts in their maiden season.
Cost per point: 1.77 Lakh.
Rohit Kumar (Bengaluru Bulls, 81 Lakhs)
Bengaluru Bulls invested heavily in Rohit Kumar after he scored a century of points for them last season. He has continued in the same vein this season, scoring 103 points in 11 matches.
After winning their first two matches, Bengaluru have only won one of their last nine matches as Rohit has received very little support from his inexperienced teammates. He has also failed to inspire as captain and opponents have targeted him often, which has seen him grace the bench, significantly reducing his impact on the match.
Cost per point: Rs. 78,460
Manjeet Chhillar (Jaipur Pink Panthers, 75.5 Lakhs )
Fondly nicknamed the raider killer, Chhillar has mostly been a bench warmer this season, playing only four of Jaipur's nine matches. Chhillar has only scored 21 points in those four matches, with eight of them coming in a single match against Bengaluru.
Jaipur have missed his experience and leadership skills and are currently languishing towards the bottom of Zone A. The past champions have been let down by most of their biggest buys at the auction and it is youngsters like Sunil Siddhgavali and Nitin Rawal that have excelled.
Cost per point: Rs. 3.59 Lakhs
Surjeet Singh (Bengal Warriors, 73 Lakhs)
Having only reached the semi-finals once in four previous seasons, Warriors broke the bank for Surjeet and he has been one of the best players this tournament and easily the best captain.
Being a defender, Surjeet has encouraged his team to play a high line of defence and given a free reign to his experienced raiders like Jang Kun Lee, Deepak Narwal and Manender Singh.
Surjeet has the most tackle points (39) and the most successful tackles (37) this year. Only Surender Nada (5) has scored more High 5s than him (3).
He has played in all the 14 matches for his team and his value goes beyond just bare numbers.
Cost per point: Rs. 1.78 Lakh
K Selvamani (Jaipur Pink Panthers, Rs. 73 Lakhs)
While all the other players on this list have been outstanding performers in previous seasons, Selvamani has at best been given middling performances. His best display came in the fourth season when he scored 45 points in 13 matches.
His auction price was a gamble at best and a catastrophic decision at worst and it has proved to be the latter as he has just played one match this season, in which he scored just two points.
Cost per point: 36.5 Lakhs
The above numbers show why Bengal are top of the table while the likes of Jaipur and UP have struggled to put in consistent performances.
Bargain Buy: Maninder Singh (Bengal Warriors, Rs. 45 Lakhs)
While proven performers like Jang Kun Lee, Surjeet, Deepak Narwal and Ran Singh have been key to Bengal's table topping run, one player who has arguably had the most impact for them has been raider Maninder Singh. After scoring more than 100 points in the first season of the PKL, Maninder missed the next three seasons.
Bengal's decision to pick him for a moderately high price at the auction raised a few eyebrows but he has been stellar this season, amassing 97 points in 12 matches. He has overshadowed the super consistent Jang, who has scored only 64 points despite playing an extra match.
Cost per point: Rs. 46, 391.