Star England players Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff on Friday became the most expensive players in the Indian Premier League after being sold for a whopping US $1.55 million (appr Rs 7.35 crore) in the players' auction for the second edition of the Twenty20 tournament, scheduled to be held from April 10 to May 29.
They got Rs 1.35 crore more than what Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni ($1.5m) got in the first edition.
The hard-hitting Pietersen, who was England's captain till recently, was bought by Bangalore Royal Challengers while Flintoff went to Chennai Super Kings.
Bangalore Royal Challengers, who finished in the bottom half of the high-profile league in the inaugural edition, spent most of their total amount of US $1.95 million on the highly-talented Pietersen, who had base price of US $1.35 million.
Flintoff, another former England captain, expectedly got good bidding and will now feature in the same team as Dhoni, who is captain of Chennai Super Kings.
Bangladesh paceman Mashrafe Mortaza went for 12 times his base price of US $50,000. In a fierce bidding war between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders, that lasted close to half an hour, the Shah Rukh Khan-owned outfit bought him for a whopping US $600,000 (approx Rs 2.94 cr).
Knight Riders had made their interest in Mortaza known even before the bidding. The Aussies were once again ignored with their wicket-keeper Brad Haddin failing to find a buyer. After the second round of auction, Modi said the number of unsold players has gone up this year because of the limited slots the teams have.
Among other players auctioned in Goa on Friday, Australia's Shuan Tait was purchased by title-holders of the inaugural edition, Rajasthan Royals, for US $375,000 while up-and-coming South African batsman Jean Paul Duminy went to Mumbai Indians for US $950,000.
West Indian paceman Fidel Edwards was bought for his base price of US $150,000 by Deccan Chargers. England's Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood were bought by Delhi Daredevils for US $275,000 each.
IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi said all the auctioned players will be contracted for two years.
South African all-rounder Tyron Henderson was bought by Rajasthan Royals for US $650,000 (appr Rs 3.18 crore), a massive jump from his base price of US $100,000.
Australian opener Phil Jaques went unsold along with South African batsman Ashwell Prince.
Australian paceman Stuart Clark, who had a base price of US $250,000 also failed to attract a buyer in the initial round of auctioning.
Another Australian Luke Wright also went unsold, the bidders not showing much interest on the Australians up for auction.
England all-rounder Ravi Bopara was bought by Kings XI Punjab for US $450,000 (appr Rs 2.20 crore), far beyond his base price of US $150,000.
New Zealand all-rounder Jesse Ryder was bought for US $160,000 by Bangalore Royal Challengers while another Kiwi cricketer, Kyle Mills, was taken by Mumbai Indians for US $150,000.
South African paceman Andre Nel went unsold. Sri Lankan paceman Nuwan Kulasekara also failed to make an impact with no team showing any interest in him.
With a total of US $13.59 million in their pockets, the eight Indian Premier League franchisees had the option of buying 17 players from a pool of 50.
In the auction, 18 players from Australia, seven from England, five from Sri Lanka, three from New Zealand, seven from South Africa, six from West Indies and four from Bangladesh were up for grabs.
Chennai Super Kings had a spending limit of upto US $2 million for two slots, the Deccan Chargers US $1.9 million for two, the Knight Riders US $1.21 for one, Kings' XI Punjab US $1.45 million for two, Mumbai Indians US $1.76 million for three players, Rajasthan Royals US $1.875 million for two and Bangalore Royal Challengers US $1.945 for two slots.
Kings XI stake-holder Preity Zinta said she desperately wanted Mortaza.
"Mortaza is a great player, an all-rounder and we wanted him. But you win some, you lose some," the Bollywood star said.
Rajasthan Royals stake-holder Shilpa Shetty was, on the other hand, was happy to have to got the players her team wanted.
"We got what we wanted," she said after Royals acquired Aussie pacer Shaun Tait and big-hitting South African all-rounder Tyron Henderson.