Nayar emerges as the most expensive Indian cricketer; Bravo, Bollinger go unsold

Glenn Maxwell, the off-spinning all-rounder from Victoria, was the biggest buy in the Pepsi-Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction here on Sunday. Auctions have thrown up surprises in the IPL and Maxwell, who began with a base price of $200,000, was finally bought by Mumbai Indians for a whopping $1 million.

The 24-year-old Maxwell has had modest success at international level — he has 197 runs in nine ODIs at 28.14 and four wickets at 58.50. And in nine twenty20 internationals, he has 47 runs at 15.66 and five scalps at 25.60.

He has, however, gained a reputation for being a hard striker of the ball and a handy off-spinner in domestic cricket. The needs of Mumbai Indians — how much a player eventually goes for is often dictated by circumstances and the requirements of a team — made him becoming a ‘million dollar baby’. “He is an upcoming youngster. Maxwell can bat and bowl his off-spin well. He is also a tremendous fielder and we needed such a cricketer in the side,” said Nita Ambani of Mumbai Indians.

In contrast two marquee players — Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke — did not fetch more than their base price of $ 400,000. Mumbai Indians was pleased with two batting legends Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting being in the same side while Pune Warriors was contemplating making the quick-thinking Clarke the captain.

In all 37 cricketers were sold from a total number of 108 players who were in the auction. Sadly, only one wicket-keeper, Quinton de Kock, was picked, by Sunrisers Hyderabad, for his base price of just $20,000. Bigger names such as Matt Prior, Prasanna Jayawardene and Matthew Wade did not find a buyer. All-rounder Abhishek Nayar emerged as the most expensive Indian cricketer in this auction. He was sold for $ 675,000 to Pune Warriors; his base price was just $100,000. Pacemen Jaydev Unadkat (Royal Challengers Bangalore, $525,000), Manpreet Singh Grewal (Kings XI Punjab, $500,000) and R.P. Singh (RCB $400,000) were big gainers in the auction. Domestic pacemen were clearly in demand.

It was a rather low key auction but IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla explained, “The major auction will come only next season. This time the teams were only looking to pick players to fill their immediate needs.”

It was an auction where the smaller names attracted bigger bids. Twenty-one year old Aussie paceman Kane Richardson, with a base price of $100,000, was roped in by Pune Warriors for $700,000. He had gone wicket-less in his lone ODI against Sri Lanka at Adelaide recently but is considered by many to be promising.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK), seeking to strengthen its pace bowling, purchased young South African all-rounder Christopher Morris for a jaw-dropping $625,000 overcoming strong bids from Mumbai Indians and RCB. Morris’ base price was just $20,000 and here was a case of a cricketer picked purely on potential.

CSK, striving to find a replacement for Doug Bollinger, shelled out $600,000 for veteran left-arm quick Dirk Nannes. Another experienced customer, off-spinner Johan Botha, was sold to Delhi Daredevils, seeking spinners, for $450,000.

Warriors sign Mendis

And comeback Sri Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis was signed by Pune Warriors for a startling $725,000 (reverse price $50,000) after Kolkata Knight Riders had made a serious bid. Warriors were convinced that Mendis had rediscovered himself as a bowler.

Even as highly-rated left-arm spinner Rangana Herath remained unsold, lesser known countryman Sachithra Senanayake, an off-spinner, was won by defending champion Kolkata Knight Riders for a surprising $625,000 after holding off a strong bid from CSK. The Sri Lankan’s reserve price was just $50,000.

Another Sri Lankan, Thissara Perera, was bagged by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $675,000; a significant jump from his base price of $50,000. Keen on purchasing all-rounders, Sunrisers also roped in West Indian captain Darren Sammy, another pace bowling all-rounder, for $425,000 (reserve price $100,000).

Darren Bravo and Bollinger, fancied names, went unsold but the relatively unknown pace-bowling all-rounder James Faulkner was lapped up by Rajasthan Royals for $400,000 (base price $100,000). This was the mood in the auction.

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