Bengaluru: England all-rounder Ben Stokes and Indian youngsters Manish Pandey and Lokesh Rahul emerged as the most valuable players at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction here on Saturday.
Debut season winners Rajasthan Royals (RR) secured Stokes for an eye-popping Rs 12.5 crore (almost $2 million). Stokes was the most valuable player at last year's IPL auction as well, when he was bought by Rising Pune Supergiant.
Pandey and Rahul were both sold for Rs 11 crore. Pandey was at the centre of an intense bidding war between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP).
He eventually went to Hyderabad at 11 times his base price as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) decided not to exercise the Right to Match (RTM) option.
Rahul started at a low base price of Rs 50 lakh. But a bitter tussle between Punjab and Hyderabad greatly inflated his price before the former took him for a whopping Rs 11 crore.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan sprung one of the big surprises at the auction by commanding a price of Rs 9 crore. Kings XI Punjab won the bidding for the 19-year-old, but Sunrisers Hyderabad clinched his services at the last moment by exercising the RTM option.
The Australian trio of Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc and Chris Lynn were also sold for hefty prices along with young Indian all-rounder Krunal Pandya, wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson, star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthick.
Surprisingly, Krunal attracted the second highest price among Indians at the auction after going to Mumbai Indians (MI) for Rs 8.8 crore. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) won the bid for Krunal before Mumbai decided to scoop him up with the RTM option.
Samson was another surprise with Rajasthan deciding to fork out Rs 8 crore for his services.
With a base price of Rs 1 crore, he was at the centre of considerable interest before the Royals beat off competition from several other teams.
Jadhav got the fourth highest price among the Indians. He was sold to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for Rs 7.8 crore. He had started at a low base price, but his value quickly escalated as CSK, SRH and RR went for him.
Dinesh Karthick also got a good price. Starting at a base price of Rs 2 crore, he was snapped up by KKR at Rs 7.4 crore.
Earlier, Maxwell started at a base price of Rs 2 crore and sparked a bidding war between Hyderabad, Punjab, Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) before the Delhi Daredevils (DD) made a late bid to snap him up for Rs 9 crore.
Starc was also at the centre of some hot competition between Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab. Kolkata eventually snapped up the Australian pace spearhead for a whopping Rs 9.4 crore.
Chris Lynn of Australia was sold to KKR for Rs 9.6 crore after they saw off challenges from Delhi and Bangalore.
Robin Uthappa was taken by KKR for Rs 6.4 crore with a late bid after strong competition between Mumbai and Rajasthan. Young Indian wicket-keeper Ishan Kishan was bought by Mumbai for Rs 6.2 crore.
KKR took Kuldeep Yadav for Rs 5.8 crore. They sat back as RCB won the bidding battle before deciding to implement the RTM option.
Seasoned leg-spinner Karn Sharma went to CSK for Rs 5 crore.
Young Indian fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who has been one of the stars of the ongoing U-19 World Cup, will make his IPL debut for KKR after being sold for Rs 3.2 crore from a base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Punjab were among the front runners at the auction, bagging several high profile players.
They had earlier taken Ashwin for Rs 7.6 crore. The star off-spinner, who had started with a base price of Rs 2 crore, was not retained by Chennai Super Kings ahead of the auction.
Punjab beat off bidding from Chennai and Rajasthan before sealing the deal.
They also took Australian opener Aaron Finch for Rs 6.2 crore after surviving strong challenges from Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata.
Punjab had also initially won the bidding war for Dwayne Bravo who had a base price of Rs 2 crore. The Mohali based franchise initially seemed to have taken the West Indies all-rounder at Rs 6.4 crore, but Chennai exercised their RTM option and snapped up the player at the same price.
The talented Karun Nair started at a low base price of Rs 50 lakh but was sold to Punjab for Rs 5.6 crore after a heated contest.
Punjab then exercised their RTM option on Australia's David Miller after Mumbai had made a bid for Rs 3 crore.
Australian pacer Pat Cummins went to Mumbai for Rs 5.4 crore after starting from a base price of Rs 2 crore. Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav was sold to RCB for Rs 4.2 crore.
Star South African pacer Kagiso Rabada was taken by Delhi via the RTM option. CSK had won the bidding tussle for the fast bowler at Rs 4.2 crore before the Daredevils whisked him away.
Delhi also bought Indian pacer Mohammed Shami for Rs 3 crore.
The Daredevils also bought veteran leg-spinner Amit Mishra for Rs 4 crore.
Bangalore meanwhile, bought Kiwi veteran Brendon McCullum for Rs 3.6 crore. McCullum's compatriot Kane Williamson started at a base price of Rs 1.5 crore and was bought back by Hyderabad for Rs 3 crore after a short tussle with Bangalore.
Shikhar Dhawan, Kieron Pollard, Ajinkya Rahane and Faf du Plessis were meanwhile brought back by their respective teams using the RTM option.
Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan went to Chennai for his base price of Rs 2 crore as there were no other takers.
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan started at a base price of Rs 1 crore and went for double that amount to Hyderabad after a short tussle with Rajasthan and Kolkata.
Gautam Gambhir went to Delhi for Rs 2.8 crore. The veteran opener had represented KKR for seven years, leading them twice to the title. But the Kolkata based franchise did not use the RTM option, letting the left-hander return to his hometown.
Yuvraj Singh meanwhile, was taken by Punjab at his base price of Rs 2 crore as there were no other bidders.
Among the all-rounders, Yusuf Pathan and Colin Monroe went to Hyderabad and Delhi respectively for identical prices of Rs 1.9 crore. England's Moeen Ali went to RCB for Rs 1.7 crore.
Star Australian all-rounder Shane Watson started at a surprisingly low base prise of Rs 1 crore. He went for Rs 4 crore to Chennai who beat off competition from Rajasthan.
Veteran South Africa star Hashim Amla, the England duo of Joe Root and Johhny Bairstow, the Kiwi trio of Martin Guptill, Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenagan, Australian all-rounder James Faulkner and his compatriot, fast bowler Josh Hazlewood were the biggest names to remain unsold.
Not surprisingly, veteran Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga also did not find any takers. The leg-spin duo of Australian Adam Zampa and Samuel Badree of West Indies also went unsold.
Among the Indians, Murali Vijay and Ishant Sharma were the biggest players to remain unsold at base prices of Rs 2 crore and Rs 75 lakh respectively. Wicket-keeper Naman Ojha was also unsold.