Bangalore: Out of favour with crucket selectors, flamboyant all-rounder Yuvraj Singh drew the biggest bid after the first four rounds of the high-profile Indian Premier League players' auction with Royal Challengers Bangalore clinching his services for a whopping Rs 14 crore here today.
Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik emerged as a surprise big draw going for Rs 12.5 crore to Delhi Daredevils, who had decided not to retain a single player before the auctions.
Controversial batsman Kevin Pietersen, whose England career came to an end abrupt end after a disastrous Ashes campaign, fetched a huge Rs 9 crore purse, bought by Delhi Daredevils, the franchise he played for last season.
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson (Rs 6.5 crore, Kings XI Punjab), Indian opener Murali Vijay (Rs 5 crore, Delhi Daredevils), South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis (Rs 5.5 crore, Kolkata Knight Riders), Robin Uthappa (Rs 5 crore, KKR), West Indian batsman Dwayne Smith (Rs 4.5 crore, Chennai Super Kings), Amit Mishra (Rs 4.25 crore, Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Aaron Finch (Rs 4 crore, SRH) were some of the players who triggered intense bidding wars in first three rounds of the auction.
514 players are going under the hammer over two days, 318 of whom are Indians, including uncapped players, who are being auctioned for the first time.
"It's a grand affair and every edition IPL has grown bigger. The seventh edition would be no exception, it will be grander and more entertaining for fans and franchises," IPL Chairman Ranjib Biswal said before the start of the star-studded auction where Bollywood actors and business tycoons were present.
Actress Preity Zinta, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab, Juhi Chawla, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders, businessman Vijay Mallya, Nita Ambani (Mumbai Indians), cricketers Rahul Dravid (Rajasthan Royals), Anil Kumble (Mumbai Indians) were among the celebrities present at the auction which was beamed live.
Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene and former New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor surprisingly found no buyers. Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and batsman David Hussey also suffered a similar fate. These players can come back into auction after all the rounds are over. Yuvraj fetching such a huge price tag since the left-hander is no longer in the ODI team due to poor form though he was picked in the squad for the World T20 Championship in Bangladesh.
"The team is looking stronger with him," said RCB co-owner Vijay Mallya.
Similar was the case of Dinesh Karthik, who does not figure in the Indian team, but generated immense interest among the franchises.
At a base price of Rs 2 crore, there was a bidding war between Delhi and Hyderabad for him before KKR also jumped into the fray. But Delhi seemed persistent and in the end,
outbid the other two contenders.
The 33-year-old Pietersen was always expected to be a hot pick given that he would be available all through the season post his forced retirement from international cricket.
So it came as no surprise that his name triggered a three-way bidding war between CSK, KXIP and Delhi. The player eventually went to Delhi, who exercised the 'Right to Match' provision to grab him being his former employers.
Kallis was taken by KKR through the same provision after initial bidding war between CSK and Delhi.
Veteran Indian opener Virender Sehwag (base price Rs 2 crore), who had been released by Delhi, went to Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3.2 crore. The India discard's name was all set to be hammered in as unsold before Punjab bought his services fending off bids from Mumbai Indians.
Australian all-rounder Steve Smith was bought by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 4 crore while Sri Lankan Thisara Perera went to Kings XI Punjab for Rs 1.6 crore.
Hard-hitting Indian all-rounder Yusuf Pathan was re-bought by KKR for Rs 3.25 crore, South Africa's Quinton de Kock was grabbed by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 3.5 crore.
The players will sign a one-year contract with their respective franchises, who have the discretion to extend them by two more years.