Australia's ageing all-rounder Shane Watson emerged as the biggest draw going for a whopping Rs 9.50 crore, while Pawan Negi was the costliest buy among the Indians with a bid of Rs 8.5 crore in a rather low-key IPL players' auction today.
The 34-year-old Watson, who marked his return to form with a blazing century against India in the last T20, triggered an intense bidding war among three franchises before Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) clinched the deal with the highest package so far.
However, Negi, Nathu Singh (Rs 3.2 crore to Mumbai Indians), Karun Nair (Rs 4 crore to Delhi Daredevils), Deepak Hooda (Rs 4.2 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad) and M Ashwin (Rs 4.5 crore to Pune) stole the headlines, gaining remarkable bids considering they are all uncapped.
Watson became the first million dollar buy of the auction with his package translating into USD 1.39 million. He was joined by Yuvraj soon after, as he went to Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 7 crore, far less than the Rs 16 crore he had garnered in the last auction.
Veteran Indian pacer Ashish Nehra (Rs 5.5 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad), Ishant Sharma (Rs 3.8 crore to Rising Pune Super Giants), Kevin Pietersen (Rs 3.5 crore to RPSG), and Dwayne Smith (Rs 2.3 crore to Gujarat Lions) were the other top draws among the marquee players in the auction which was beamed live to millions of viewers.
Unheralded West Indian batsman Carlos Brathwaite was a surprise gainer fetching a whopping Rs 4.2 crore fee from the Delhi Daredevils, a huge jump from his base price of Rs 30 lakh.
Another top pick was Indian pacer Mohit Sharma, who was taken by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 6.5 crore.
Young Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson, who had a base price of Rs 2 crore, was expectedly a sought after player with Delhi Daredevils buying him for Rs 4.2 crore.
The auction saw celebrity owners like Nita Ambani (Mumbai Indians), Preity Zinta (Kings XI Punjab) and Vijay Mallya (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and former players such as Ricky Ponting, Stephen Fleming, VVS Laxman, Tom Moody, Brad Hodge and Daniel Vettori actively involved in the bidding process for their respective franchises.
After the marquee players were sold out in the very first batch, the auction lacked fizz with several players going unsold.
Surprisingly, Australia's T20 captain Aaron Finch, New Zealand's big-hitting batsman Martin Guptill, Australia's former captain George Bailey, South African Hashim Amla, and retired players like Mahela Jayawardene, Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin went unsold.
West Indian Darren Sammy, Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan, in-form Australian Usman Khawaja, David Hussey, Adam Voges and Munaf Patel also failed to find any takers.
Yuvraj wasn't third-time lucky in terms of being the biggest buy but Sunrisers Hyderabad entered late into the fray to buy him.
"I don't agree (that Yuvraj did not evoke interest among bidders). If you look at the bidding we were very interested, but issues of bidding and price ceiling issues, did not allow us to go for him. He is really a marquee player and hope he plays for us sometime in the future," RCB Director Amrit Thomas told reporters.
Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh fetched a good deal from the Pune franchise, which bid Rs 4.8 crore for the enterprising player.
Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, who had got a stunning deal of over Rs 12 crore from the Delhi Daredevils the last time, went for a much lower Rs 2.3 crore this time with Gujarat Lions.
Gujarat also bought South African pacer Dale Steyn and West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith for the same price.
Pune also got Pietersen for Rs 3.5 crore (USD 515,000), the first player to go under the hammer, even though Gujarat Lions also bid intensely for the dashing England batsman.
Also, he has been an ever-present player for the now banned Rajasthan Royals being the 'Player of the Tournament' in the league's first season.
Watson has retired from the longer format but his 130-135 kmph seam-up stuff has also turned out to be handy on Indian pitches.
Mumbai Indians loosened their purse strings for a couple of unexpected players, buying English stumper Jos Buttler (Rs 3.8 crore) and New Zealand pacer Tim Southee (2.5 crore ).
The Indian pace duo of Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan, both of whom have been out of reckoning from the national side, also found buyers.
While Irfan fetched a Rs 1 crore package from Pune, Praveen managed to pull off a bid of rs 3.5 crore from Gujarat.
Gujarat also picked Indian medium-pacer Dhawal Kulkarni for Rs 2 crore. South African pacer Kyle Abbott went to Kings XI Punjab for 2.10 crore.
Indian all-rounder Stuart Binny was sold for his base price of Rs 2 crore to Royal Challengers Bangalore. Another Indian pacer Barinder Sran, who made an impression during the recent ODI series against Australia, was bought for Rs 1.2 crore by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Feature image source: AFP