MUMBAI: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni attracted the highest price of $1.5 million (approximately Rs6 crore) in the first round of bidding for players in the Indian Premier League, ahead of international stars like Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist.
Dhoni was bought by the Chennai team for the first three years of the Twenty20 IPL competition featuring eight city-based teams.
Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds attracted the next highest price of $1.35 million from Hyderabad after bidding started at the base price of $250,000.
Sri Lanka’s 38-year-old opening batsman and former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya went for $975,000 to Mumbai, which also paid $850,000 for Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh.
Australian fast bowler Brett Lee was auctioned to the northern Mohali team for $900,000 , while his test captain Ricky Ponting went for $400,000 despite a high floor price of $325,000.
Australia’s retiring vice captain Adam Gilchrist, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara and New Zealander Brendon McCullum were auctioned for identical $700,000 fees.
The Mohali team acquired Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena for $475,000, while former Australia spinner Shane Warne went to Jaipur for $450,000. The Calcutta squad acquired the services of Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar for $425,000.
Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag have been given ‘iconic´ status, which means they will not be auctioned off and lead their home teams.
Each will get 15% more than the highest-paid player in his side.
Eight franchise owners, including corporate tycoons and Bollywood actors, are bidding for 78 cricketers in a pioneering process that some observers believe will change the face of the game.
Industrialist Nes Wadia and Bollywood star Priety Zinta, franchise owners of the Mohali team, and Shah Rukh Khan, franchise owner of the Kolkata team, along with wife Gauri arrive for the auction of cricket players for the Indian Premier League in Mumbai
The winning bids were disclosed by Lalit Modi, chairman of the IPL governing body.
“We’re all very excited, this is a tremendous day for world cricket,” Modi said before the auction began.
All bidding is being done electronically in a sealed room, where eight teams owned by a variety of Indian companies and Bollywood superstars are vying for 78 of the world’s finest cricketers.The bidding is being conducted by professional English auctioneer Richard Madley.
A total of 13 Australians are going under the hammer, with many expected to attract fierce bidding based on their competitive reputation in international cricket.
Other Australians going under the hammer include Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, Justin Langer and Glenn McGrath.
Also in the fray are 25 Indians, 11 Sri Lankans, 11 South Africans, eight Pakistanis, five New Zealanders, three West Indians and one Zimbabwean.