Dubai: The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction for the sixth edition of the event had one surprise millionaire in unheralded Australian allrounder
Glen Maxwell, but Pune Warriors, who finished at the bottom of the heap last year, showed they were willing to go for broke in what will be their third season.
Mumbai Indians picked up Maxwell, the only player to hit the $1 million-mark on a day when the nine teams bought 37 players out of 108 available, spending a total of $11.89 million (Dh43.67 million). Two of the marquee players, Australian skipper Michael Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting, failed to get beyond their base price of $400,000 each though, keeping the auction’s tradition of throwing up the unexpected in tact.
The third marquee player was South African all-rounder Johan Botha, who went to Rajasthan last year for $950,000, was bought by Delhi Daredevils for $450,000 after an aggressive bidding-match with Pune.
Clarke, however, looks set to play a more important role in the Warriors’ challenge to improve upon their miserable outings in the last two editions. A senior member of the team’s think tank told Gulf News that Clarke is “almost certain” to captain the side this year as Yuvraj Singh, who led the team in their debut season before falling sick last year, is not very keen to take over the responsibility.
“Yuvi has reportedly told the management that he wants to focus on his performance with the national team and wants to be considered as a player only,” the official said.
The team, owned by Indian cricket team sponsors Sahara Group, was one of the biggest spenders in the Chennai auction on Sunday morning, spending a whopping $725,000 for Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis, $700,000 for Australia’s paceman Kane Richardson and $675,000 for Mumbai allrounder Abhisek Nayar, who had a good season in domestic cricket.
Explaining the rationale behind chasing the Sri Lankan spinner in a three-way battle with Mumbai and Kolkata Knight Riders, the Warriors official said: “It’s a make-or-break season for us. Given the dominant role spinners have been playing in the IPL, we needed a mystery spinner like him to do the damage in the way KKR [Kolkata Knight Riders] used Sunil Narine last season.”
Sunrisers Hyderabad, the erstwhile Deccan Chargers, gained Thisara Perera for $675,000 and West Indies captain Darren Sammy in a bid to take a fresh guard under the new management. “Our intention was to boost the team with more allrounders and we succeeded in getting the likes of West Indies captain Darren Sammy, Nathan McCullum and Perera. I am hopeful of the team posing a strong challenge this time,” Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who has joined the Sunrisers from the Chennai camp as mentor, told Gulf News.
South African speedster Chris Morris, who has played only one T20 international, went for more than 30 times his entry price, with Chennai Super Kings doling out $625,000.
The day surely belonged to Maxwell, though it was ironic that he was out for a duck in the one-day International against the West Indies back home on Sunday. The 24-year-old Victorian represented the Delhi Daredevils in the last edition of IPL.
“Maxwell is a good kid, an exceptional talent and it will be exciting to see him play,” said Anil Kumble, mentor of Mumbai Indians. “It will be nice to have him in the team.”
The Indians were, expectedly, in high demand. Apart from Nayar, fast bowlers Manpreet Gony and Jaydev Unadkat also got a good deal. IPL debutants Sunrisers Hyderabad paid $500,000 for Gony while Unadkat went to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for $525,000.