The much awaited player auction for the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) began here on Saturday with first list of marquee players coming up and England all-rounder Ben Stokes commanded the highest bid of Rs 12.5 Crore while IPL star Chris Gayle had no takers in the first set and went unsold.
In all 578 players, including 360 Indian players, will go under hammer in the two-day auction.
The auction began with opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan being the first player to come under the hammer sold for Rs 5.2 Crore bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad. Initially Kings XI Punjab had made the highest bid but Sunrisers used the right to match option to retain the Delhi player.
Star all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin was the next with Kings XI Punjab winning the bid at Rs 7.6 Crore against his base price of Rs 2 Crore. The Tamil Nadu player had played for Chennai Super Kings for a number of seasons.
Mumbai Indians retained West Indian all-rounder Kiaron Pollard using right to match option after Delhi Dare Devils had offered to buy him at Rs 5.4 crore. Then came a big surprise as Chris Gayle, the fourth player who came up for auction had none of the eight franchise preferring not to make a bid. He would come up for the auction in the second round tomorrow.
Next to come was England all rounder Ben Stokes who attracted aggressive bidding from the franchise owners and ultimately Rajasthan Royals won the bid for Rs 12.5 Crore. Another star player and Australian fast bowler Mitchell Stark was sold for Rs 9.4 Crore with KKR making the highest bid.
Later speaking to reporters Rajastan Royals Chairman and CEO Ranjit Bhorthakar said Stokes had been cleared by England Cricket Board to play in IPL after he was involved in a drunken brawl in England and inquiry is in progress.
The other marquee players who won the bids were South Africa Captain Faf du Plesis (Rs 1.6 Crore) retained by Chennai Super Kings using RTM option, Ajinkya Rahane retained for RR for Rs 4 Crore, Dwayne Bravo retained by CSK for Rs 6.4 Crore, Australian explosive batsman Glen Maxwell brought for Rs 9 Crore by DD, Gautam Gambhir sold for Rs 2.8 Crore again by DD, Bangladesh all rounder Shakib al Hassan for Rs 2 Crore by SRH, Harbhajan Singh sold at base price of Rs 2 Crore bought by CSK, Yuvraj Singh was also sold at the base price of Rs 2 Crore in favour of KXIP and New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson bought by SRH for Rs 3 Crore.
Interestingly England captain Joe Root who had a base price of Rs 1.5 Crore went unsold.
Meanwhile, IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla, who spoke to the press, said no final decision to change the match timings to 5.30 pm and 7 pm from the earlier 4 pm and 8 pm had been taken. It was discussed at the IPL General Council and circulated with the franchises and two of them had already objected to it and wanted to have the old timing.
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