The star of the day was Indian opener Gautam Gambhir, who fetched a cool $ 2.4 million from Kolkata Knight Riders, also the biggest sum spent on a player in the history of IPL. Gambhir, who has been a pillar for Delhi Daredevils, also attracted furious bids from Team Kochi, Mumbai Indians and Sahara Pune Warriors on an eventful day that saw 88 players being auctioned.
Till Saturday, the bids that England duo of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff attracted ( $ 1.55 million) from Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings respectively were the highest sums paid in the IPL.
“The money is massive, but I think Gambhir, whose base price was $200,000, is an investment worth made and I am sure it will stand in good stead for our team,” said Venky Mysore, CEO of the Knight Riders.
The second day will witness the auction of 280 players, including 16 unsold cricketers, with the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle not inviting any bids on the day.
The hectic day saw Bangalore lad Robin Uthappa, hard-hitting Yusuf Pathan, and talented Rohit Sharma also entering the $ 2 million club. Uthappa ($ 2.1 million) was snaffled by Pune Warriors, Knight Riders bagged elder Pathan ($ 2.1 million) while Mumbai Indians wrested Rohit for $ 2 million.
“We would have wished to have Rohit in our line-up, but that’s the nature of the auction and Mumbai team was adamant on getting Rohit in their team. So, we had to leave him,” said Darren Lehmann, coach of Deccan Chargers.
Bowlers, mainly from abroad, too, hit the jackpot in the auction with South African pacer Dale Steyn, who tormented the Indian batsmen in the recent Test series, leading the way with $ 1.2 million. Deccan Chargers had to beat stiff biddings from Royal Challengers and Kings XI Punjab to pocket Steyn.
“We were looking for a genuine fast bowler from the auction and we are quite happy to bag Steyn as he has showed over the years what a class act he is.”
Legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan fetched a surprising $1.1 million from Team Kochi, a proof that the aura of the highest wicket-taker in Test and one-dayers still lingers.
But for some other big names, the day proved vastly disappointing. Ganguly and Lara entered the auction in the top price category ($ 400,000), but there were no takers for either of them.