Panaji: England players Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff fetched $1.55 million (approximately Rs7.35 crore) each at the Indian Premier League player auction Friday, setting a record for the highest amount paid for a player in the Twenty20 competition.
Flintoff was snapped up by Chennai Super Kings, which last year set the previous record of 1.5 million for Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Bangalore’s Royal Challengers secured Pietersen.
Bangalore’s owner Vijay Mallya said he was prepared to pay more for Pietersen.
“It was a very worthwhile investment,” Mallya told reporters after the first round of bidding.
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“Team balance was important and Kevin was certainly important in maintaining that balance.”
England players were not involved in the auction last year.
Kevin Pietersen / Reuters
South African JP Duminy was sold for $950,000 to Mumbai Indians, more than three times his reserve price.
Australia paceman Shaun Tait was the first player auctioned, going to defending champions Rajasthan Royals for $375,000, where he will join former Australia teammate Shane Warne.
All contracts were for two seasons, rather than the three of last year.
The 2009 IPL season will be held from 10 April to 29 May.
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Delhi Daredevils bought England pair Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah for $275,000 each, while West Indies paceman Fidel Edwards went for $150,000 to Hyderabad’s Deccan Chargers.
Teams were permitted to spend a maximum of $2 million on acquisitions this year, but that amount was adjusted downward for teams that had already signed some player contracts ahead of the auction.
This year’s auction is different from that in 2008, when teams went out to pick their entire squad. Now, they only have to top it up with a few players or fill in vacancies caused by non-availability of some cricketers.
There were 50 players up at the auction, but teams had only 17 slots to fill this year.
Andrew Flintoff / Reuters
On Thursday, IPL chairman Lalit Modi said franchisees affected by the Pakistan government’s decision to bar its players from the second IPL could rope in replacements once the auction is over.
Accordingly, Kolkata Knight Riders can bring in Umar Gul’s replacement, Bangalore Royal Challengers can recruit another to substitute Misbah-ul-Haq while Rajasthan Royals can draft in a couple to make up for the absence of Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Akmal.
Players are allowed to miss IPL matches only due to injury or if they have to represent their national teams in Tests or limited-overs internationals.