South African batting sensation Tristan Stubbs triggered a bidding frenzy with Sunrisers Eastern Cape getting his services for a staggering 9.2 million rand (US$500,000 plus) at the inaugural auction of the SA T20 league in Cape Town on Monday.
The six teams in the league are owned by IPL franchises -- MI Cape Town (Reliance), Pretoria Capitals (JSW), Paarl Royals (Royals Sports Group), Durban Super Giants (RPG-Sanjiv Goenka), Johannesburg Super Kings (India Cements), Sunrisers Eastern Cape (Sunrisers Hyderabad owner Kaviya Maran).
With a salary cap of R 34 million (US$1.9 million approx, INR 15 crore) per team, robust bidding was witnessed with Stubbs, who plays for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, being the most sought-after.
Four franchises were involved in a bidding war with MI Cape Town making the initial move followed by Paarl Royals. However, towards the end it was Johannesburg Super Kings and Sunrisers Eastern Cape, who fought tooth and nail before the latter made a winning bid of R 9.2 million.
"I am still shaking," was Stubbs's first reaction.
The other big buy for Sunrisers was their own IPL player -- left-arm pacer Marco Jansen for R 6.1 million (US$344,000)
One of the other notable gainers was left-handed batter Rilee Rossouw, who laughed his way to the bank with a R 6.9 million (US$390,000 approx) bid from Pretoria Capitals.
Among the known players, Lungi Ngidi got R 3.4 million (US$191,000 USD) while Tabraiz Shamsi got a bid of R 4.3 million (US$242,000) from the same franchise.
The hard-hitting Heinrich Klaasen was picked by Durban Super Giants for R 4.5 million (US$252,000) while Keshav Maharaj got R 2.5 million (US$141,000) from Sanjiv Goenka's team.
Johannesburg Super Kings picked up England batter Dawid Malan for R 2.7 million (US$152,000) and hard-hitting youngster Harry Brook for R 2.1 million (US$118,000).
The big names that went unsold include World Cup-winning England captain Eoin Morgan, South African ODI captain Temba Bavuma and the Asia Cup-winning opening pair from Sri Lanka, Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka.