How Does the IPL Auction Work? (With Rules & Process)

The IPL (short for Indian Premier League) has become India’s national adopted festival. Indian cricket changed forever when the first IPL auction took place in 2008. Ever since, the auctioning process takes place every year deciding the fate of the Indian and foreign players participating in the league.

The unpredictable nature of the auction makes it even more exciting as some unknown domestic player gets a multi-million dollar deal whereas many proven international performers go unsold.

The IPL auction is a yearly event conducted by BCCI to auction the cricket players to various franchisees. A dedicated auctioneer controls the proceedings of this multi-day event. IPL franchises fiercely bid for the listed players. The auction ends with a settled squad for every IPL team.

Although the auction process happens for a couple of days, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes for months. Teams complete the pre-auction analysis and work on the strategy to be employed during the auction. The remaining budget, the type of player needed, players’ international commitment, injury history, his equation with the coach, everything matters when a franchise decides to bid for a player.

Let’s take a detailed look at minute aspects of the IPL auction process in the following article.

How Does the IPL Auction Work?

It is a familiar sight for the IPL viewers to look at the team owners, managers, coaches, and at times, analysts sitting at the assigned tables during the multi-day IPL auction going live on television.

An image of IPL Auction under progress (Image Credit)

Auction is where players in the common pool are sold to the highest bidder as per the IPL rules and regulations about the formation of the squads.

A lot happens before the auction and a lot continues to happen after it as well in terms of players getting in or out of the squad. However, the majority of the action happens during the auction.

After a fierce battle for over a couple of days, some teams go home happy while others are left to ponder over some of the decisions they made during the auction. So how does it all pan out? Let’s start with the money.

How Much Budget Does Each Team get?

Each franchise in the IPL gets a purse of INR 80 Crore to assemble the team of domestic and international Indian players and foreign players (capped, uncapped, or the players from associate nations).

An IPL franchise doesn’t need to use the complete kitty in the purse, however, as per the recent rules, they are mandated to spend 75% of the purse which amounts to INR 60 Crore. Franchises can of course go as much close to INR 80 Crore as wished. Currently, CSK has spent INR 79.85 Crore on the player salaries and have just 15 Lakhs left in the purse.

The franchises build their strategy around the players they want and the money they have. It has often proved vital that the franchises keep some money in the purse to be utilized at the right moment.

In the latest IPL auction that happened in December 2019, Kings XI Punjab had the highest amount – INR 42.70 Crore – left in the kitty. They could bid heavily for prime players like Glenn Maxwell and Sheldon Cottrell and were able to eventually purchase them. By the end of the auction, King XI Punjab still had the highest amount left in the purse – INR 16.5 Crore.

What are the Different Categories of Players in the IPL Auctions?

Primarily there are 3 types of players in any IPL team –

  1. Capped Indian players
  2. Uncapped Indian Players
  3. Foreign or Overseas Players (Non-Indian Players)

Capped players are basically Indian players who have represented India seniors’ team in any format of the game at least once.

Indian uncapped players are domestic players in the Indian first-class circuit who have never represented India.

Non-Indian players all fall into the category of foreign players which can be a capped player, an uncapped player, or a player from an associate cricket nation.

Under-19 players cannot be considered in the uncapped category unless they have played some first-class or List-A cricket.

There is absolutely no difference as to how the IPL auction takes place for these players. The only place where the player-type affects is the Team Squad. The team squad can have a maximum of 8 foreign players of which only 4 foreign players are allowed to be part of a Playing XI at any given point in time in the match.

How Many Players are Listed in the Auction?

There is no hard limit for the number of players that go into the auction. The number has been different in every auction.

It really depends on the numbers of players who sign up for the auction providing the NOC from the respective cricket boards. Furthermore, the players are shortlisted considering various factors including the availability of different types of players.

For example, in 2019 auction, a total of 1122 players signed up for the auction, out of which only 578 made it to the shortlisted list which contained 360 Indians (62 capped Indians and 298 uncapped) and 218 foreign players (182 capped, 34 uncapped and 2 cricketers from Associate Nations).

What is the Player Base Price? How are the Prices of the Players Set?

The Base Price of a player is the minimum price from which the bidding for that particular player starts. No player can be sold below this price.

Did You Know?
For the IPL Auction, it is the players who decide their own base price from which the bidding for that player will start. However, this price shall be higher than INR 10 lakh and lower than INR 2 Crore!

It might surprise you to know that players can decide their own base price as long as it is higher than INR 10 Lakh and lower than INR 2 Crore. Capped and foreign players generally set the price closer to the ceiling whereas uncapped Indian players set relatively lower base prices.

Franchises eventually want to make the money from these investments in cricketers, on or off the field. Thus, Players have to take a lot of things into consideration, such as performance history, recent form, social media following, etc. before setting their base price otherwise they risk setting it too low or too high.

In the past, many players have remained unsold because they set the base prices too high.

How Many Players are Required in the Team Squad?

Each franchise can have a minimum of 18 to a maximum of 25 players in the squad. There cannot be more than 8 foreign players in the squad.

So, for example, a team that has 25 players in the squad may have 17 Indian players (capped and uncapped) and 8 foreign players.

The same team can also have 25 Indian players and no foreign players – that is a possible but highly unlikely scenario since foreign players are generally the ones who have performed at the global stage and the franchisees do not want to miss out on them. As long as the purse allows them, franchises tend to bid heavily for foreign players.

On the match day, the rules restrict the number of foreign players to 4 in the playing XI. There are no other restrictions while selecting the playing XI before the match.

Who is the Auctioneer?

Richard Madley (Image Credit)

An auctioneer is a person responsible for managing the auction process. He announces the player and base price once a player comes up for auction and continues to announce the raised price as the bids come along.

He keeps an eye on all the franchises to determine who placed the bid first and resolves any conflicts that may arise. In short, the auctioneer is responsible for making sure that the auction goes ahead smoothly and fairly. Once the auctioneer announces, “And Sold!”, that’s when a player gets sold to the highest bidding franchise.

For the 10 years of IPL, since its inception, Richard Madley became a household name as the IPL Auctioneer. In 2018, BCCI ended his contract and replaced him with Hugh Edmeades – an independent fine art, classic car, and charity auctioneer from Britain.

What are the Player Retention Policies in IPL?

Each IPL team is allowed to retain a few core members of the team. As per the latest rules, teams can retain up to 5 players as a part of pre-auction retention in combination with the Right-To-Match (RTM) policy.

In the pre-auction retention, the teams can retain 3 players which can include up to 3 Indian capped players, up to 2 overseas players, and up to 2 uncapped Indian players. To make retention a serious business, the rules are such that the teams retaining the players have to undergo a salary deduction of a predefined amount from their purse irrespective of the cost of retained players.

The salary deductions for the teams retaining 3 players are decided as INR 15 Crore, INR 11 Crore, and 7 Crore. Salary deductions for the teams retaining 2 players are INR 12.5 Crore and 8.5 Crore whereas it is INR 12.5 Crore of a single retained player. For retaining an uncapped Indian player, the salary deduction is INR 3 Crore.

What is Right-To-Match (RTM) in IPL?

Harsha Bhogle explains the Retention Policy and the Right to Match card in IPL

Right-To-Match card is basically an option to the current franchise owner of a player to match the price of the players sold during an auction in order to retain the player at that price.

Right-To-Match can be applied as a part of a retention policy during the ongoing auction. As stated in the previous point, if a team has retained 3 players in pre-auction retention, then only two RTMs are available for the team to complete the quota of 5 retentions. If a team has retained only 2 players, then 3 RTMs are available for the team, and so on.

RTM is applied during the auction process when a player is being bid for. If a team can match the highest amount that is bid for a player they want to retain, then they can apply the RTM i.e. they show the willingness to match the amount needed to retain the player in the squad.

What are the Trading Window and the Player Replacement Policies?

As a part of player acquisition, the IPL franchises can trade players during the trading window with the consent of the players involved. Such franchises also have to bear the cost difference, if any, between the old and new contracts. In case the new contract is more lucrative than the older one, the profit is shared by the player and his old franchise.

The rules prohibit the trading happening outside the trading window or during the tournament. On the other hand, the replacement of players, due to the reasons, such as unavailability, can happen at any time including during the ongoing tournament.

The unsold players at the end of the auction are also in contention to be brought in as replacements any time before or during the tournament.

What happens to the Unsold Players after the Auction?

It is quite disheartening for the players to go unsold at the auction. However, unsold players need not lose hope; not immediately at least.

The players, who go unsold in the first round, have the chance to go back to the pot and can be bought by the franchises in the subsequent rounds. The rounds continue until all the teams fulfill the minimum requirement for the squad. Unsold players can also be sold in the accelerated bidding round.

What is the Accelerated Bidding?

Once the Day-1 of the auction ends after a certain number of players go under the hammer, the 8 franchises are allowed to nominate a set of players from the remaining players as a part of the “accelerated bidding” process.

The list has to be submitted on the first day itself before 10 pm. This list of nominated players will undergo the bidding the next day as a part of the accelerated bidding process. This type of bidding helps to filter off unwanted players and is a method to speed up the bidding process with targeted players.

Unsold players are also eligible to be included in the squad as a replacement signing for the unavailable player before or during the tournament.

Chris Gayle went unsold twice in the 2018 IPL auction and was eventually bought for the base price of 2 Crore by Kings XI Punjab. However, in the same year, Lasith Malinga went unsold through the auction.

Do All Players get Auctioned on the First Day?

IPL auction is a multi-day process. Apart from being categorized as capped, uncapped, and foreign players, the players, for the sake of the auction, are also categorized into a list of Marquee players.

On the first day, the auction kicks off with the Marquee list. In 2019 auction, there were 16 players in the Marquee list which were divided into two batches of 8 for bidding purposes. The Marquee list involved players such as Ravichandran Ashwin, Chris Gayle, Kieron Polland, Ben Stokes to name a few.

Once the Marquee list is done, batsmen, allrounders, wicketkeepers, fast bowlers and spinners among the capped and uncapped players come up for the bidding round. 2019 auction was the first time when the uncapped players came up for bidding on an opening day.

The second day involves the accelerated bidding and the bidding for the remaining players. Once all the shortlisted players have been brought to bidding, the process is repeated until the teams get the minimum required player combinations right.

Does IPL auction money go to the players?

In the IPL auction, the players are bought by franchises for a specific amount during the auction process. There are other ways such as trading and replacement which we will talk about earlier in the article. So where does the money go?

Who gets the IPL Auction Money?

The players are bought for three years for the amount paid during the auction. That means the player gets the auction price every year. For example, if a player is bought in the auction for INR 3 Crore, the said franchise pays him INR 3 Crore every year for the next 3 years.

If the player wants more money, he can ask the franchise to release him for future auctions.

The good thing about the rules and regulations about players’ salaries in IPL is that they are in the best interest of the players. If a player gets injured in the middle of the season, franchises are supposed to pay him in full.

If the purchased player reports to the team camp before the season injured and cannot take part in any games that season, even then he is entitled to get a 50% salary. Mohammed Shami of Delhi Daredevils and Dwayne Bravo of Gujarat lions have been beneficiary of this in the past.

Additionally, if a player is fit to play but plays only a few games or sits out the entire season, even then he gets his full salary.

Many uncapped players spend their season without playing a single game. Glenn Maxwell, who was bought by Mumbai Indians in 2013 for a USD 1 Million, played just 3 games that season but received his full salary.

How Much do IPL Players Earn? Who are the Highest-Paid Players in the IPL?

The player salaries in IPL range from INR 10 Lakh to INR 17 Crore.

The disparity in salaries is due to the fact that most of the franchises spend 30% to 40% of the total budget on the top 5 players. Thus, when it comes to filling up the last few spots they go for the low base-price players, such as Indian uncapped players, to make up for the minimum squad requirement.

Virat Kohli – Highest earner in the history of IPLs (Image Credit)

Indian captain, Virat Kohli has been the highest-paid player so far in the history of IPLs when he was retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore for a hefty sum of INR 17 Crore.

Explosive Indian left-hander Yuvraj Singh ranks second in the list with the earnings of INR 16 Crore. Pat Cummins, who was bought for INR 15.5 Crore, is the latest inclusion at the third spot in the highest earner’s list.

Indian cricket’s stalwarts, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are currently held for INR 15 Crore by Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, respectively. Rishabh Pant also earns INR 15 Crore with Delhi Daredevils.

How do IPL owners earn money?

IPL is a business as much as it is a cricket festival in India and across the globe. Franchises spend millions of dollars on players as an investment in this great product called IPL. So how do the franchises make money after all? Let’s take a look.

1. Title Sponsors

The Chinese technology giant Vivo is the title sponsor for IPL until 2023 along with other official sponsors such as Jio, Goibibo, Dream11 to name a few. BCCI earns a lot of money from these sponsors.

A certain percentage, usually about 60%, of all the money that BCCI generates from the tournament/sponsors is distributed equally among all the IPL franchises. This is the guaranteed amount that all the franchises generate every year.

2. Team Sponsors

Team sponsors for Delhi Daredevils on the jersey

Each IPL team also has separate sponsors. The myriad of names, that you see on the player’s jerseys, are the team sponsors who are a huge source of income for the franchises.

3. Home Games

Each franchise has a home ground assigned to it by the BCCI. For example, Wankhede Stadium is the home ground for Mumbai Indians. The money coming from the ticket sales during home games is another source of income for IPL franchises.

4. Merchandised products

A sea of fans wearing the yellow of the Chennai Superkings during a cricket match (Photo: IANS)

The sea of yellow during a CSK game or a sea of blue during MI is the sea of merchandised t-shirts bought by the fans. These merchandised products are a source of revenue for the IPL franchises.

5. Other sources

The champions of the IPL are set to earn 20 Crores which is a relatively low amount in the scheme of things. The IPL franchises also earn some money in player trades in the trading window in case the new franchise is paying the player more than the old franchise.

How do Teams Prepare for the Auctions?

IPL is a big-money game. Each franchise is backed by some business corporations. They spend Crores on player salaries, promotions, training facilities, etc.

For example, Reliance Industries own the four-time IPL winning team Mumbai Indians. For them it is about making a profit, as much as, if not more, about the game of Cricket.

Thus, the auction becomes crucial in terms of adding required players to the squad and making the squad strong enough to go all the way. Let’s take a look at the kind of pre-auction activities franchises are involved and the various parameters they look for before going to a bidding war for a player.

1. The Core Team

The core team is the group of 4-5 match-winning individuals who, if fit, play every game of the season. The whole team dynamics revolve around these players. The first target for every franchise is to assemble the core team members. They generally reserve a lot out of the player salaries for these core members.

2. Indian Players

Each IPL squad is supposed to have 10 to 17 Indian players (capped or uncapped) from a squad that can have 18 to 25 members. The foreign player limit in the squad is capped at 8 players. So the franchisees need to make sure that they have enough Indian players of high quality at a reasonable price.

3. Foreign Players’ Schedule

A good mix of foreign players, this of David Warner or Kane Williamson, is crucial for an IPL team’s success. These are the proven performers in the T20 format around the world. However, one of the important parameters to check for while bidding for a foreign player is to look at his international commitment. It would be money unwisely spent if a high-cost player leaves the tournament midway.

4. The Balance of the Squad

There are certain crucial aspects of every successful T20 team such as explosive openers, solid middle order, couple of good finishers, a pair of cunning fast bowlers, a world-class spinner, a worthy all-rounder, and a shrewd captain to name a few. That is why Franchises focus on filling these roles in the team to have a balanced squad that can get the team out of any tricky match situation.

5. Player Stats

Player statistics have gained a lot of importance in this era of data analytics. Each team has special data scientists crunching data for very minute and focused aspects of the game such as batting strike-rate in overs 7 to 10, balls per boundary, or the number of 2s per innings, etc.

It’s a data world and irrespective of whether this data analysis brings any tangible results, no franchise wants to miss out on the industry trend. Thus, player data insights have become a key part of a team’s pre-auction strategy.

6. Money left in the purse

All said and done, every IPL team gets the same budget to make the squad. Needless to say, the money left in the purse at the time of auction trumps all the other pre-auction analysis. The franchises have to re-prioritize on the spot based on the budget left. Yes, it is as exciting as it sounds.

Final Thoughts

Phew! That must have been a lot to take. But that’s how interesting and comprehensive the IPL auctions are. You cannot really enjoy the process if you are not aware of the intricacies involved. This was an attempt to shed some light on those intricacies. Do take your time to read this article and bookmark it in case you need to come back to it later. Hope you had as much a good time reading as I had while writing it.

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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