Mortaza’s auction overshadows Pietersen-Flintoff record price (Round-up)

February 6th, 2009 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh KhanPanaji, Feb 6 (IANS) Star England players Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen Friday became the highest paid cricketers in the Indian Premier League as both went under the hammer for a record $1.55 million each while Bangladesh fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza was the talking point of the auction as he took home an astonishing $600,000 — 12 times over his base price — in a fierce bidding battle.Flintoff was snared by IPL runners-up Chennai Super Kings who last year set the record buying India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for $1.50 million, while Pietersen was snatched by liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s Bangalore Royal Challengers, saying he was prepared to pay even more as it was a worthwhile investment.

The two former England captains had the favourites tag for the second round auction of the IPL and at $1.35 million, Pietersen had the highest starting price of the 50-player list, while Flintoff was listed at $950,000.

The eight team franchisees had a total pay purse of $ 13.6 million to spend for the 17 available slots. But there was no mad scrambling for Pietersen and Flintoff, even as IPL champions Rajasthan Royals raised the bar.

N. Srinivasan of Super Kings was more circumspect, although he spent as much as Mallya for Pietersen on the Yorkshire all-rounder Flintoff.

“We were targeting him. We are glad we got Flintoff. He is an outstanding all-rounder and will improve the balance of the team,” Srinivasan said.

But the drama and excitement generated by Mortaza’s auction overshadowed the entire show. The strapping fast bowler who was eventually acquired by Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders after a frenetic bidding in the longest auction of a player, with Preity Zinta’s Kings XI Punjab. Mortaza went for twelve time the price tag of $50,000 fixed for him.

Another smart catch was South African new sensation Jean Paul Duminy, who was the hero in the Proteas’ series win against Australia. Ironically, the player whom he replaced because of an injury Ashwell Prince, went unsold as there were no takers for him.

Mumbai Indians, represented at the auction by Nita, Mukesh Ambani’s wife, came prepared to buy Duminy and bid aggressively with Knight Riders. Mumbai Indians, who finished fifth in the inaugural IPL, got him for for $950,000 — commanding the third highest price after Pietersen and Flintoff. The left-hander’s base price was $300,000.

Duminy’s compatriot Tyron Henderson, 34, whose experience is mainly with Middlesex, was picked by Rajasthan Royals for a surprising $ 650,000 over a base price of $100,000.

Australian pace bowler Shaun Tait was the first player to be called out and he was bought by defending champions Rajasthan Royals for $375,000.

All-rounder Paul Collingwood and fellow-England batsman Owais Shah were snapped up by the Delhi Daredevils for $275,000 and $375,000, respectively. Ravi Bopara was picked up by the Kings XI Mohali for $450,000.

English players have got a window of three weeks to play in the competition and would return in time for the Lord’s Test against the West Indies May 6.

Last year 100 players were auctioned for $40million and this year the teams spent close to $13.6 million in filling the 17 slots from a pool of 50 players.

The contracts this time are for two seasons, unlike three last year.

The 2009 IPL season will be held from April 10 to May 29.

The teams could spend a maximum of $2 million on acquisitions this year, but that amount was adjusted downward for teams that had contracted some player well before the auction.

The auction this time was only to allow franchisees to balance their teams or fill the vacancies caused by non-availability of players unlike last year when the bidding was for the entire squad.

The franchisees were permitted to terminate the contracts of the players from Pakistan bought last year after Pakistan’s government prevented their cricketers from playing in this year’s event following strained relations between the two countries in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Newly-appointed Pakistan captain Younis Khan, his predecessor Shoaib Malik, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt and Mohammad Hafeez found their contracts terminated by their respective franchises.

“By deciding not to take part this year, these players have gone against the rules of the IPL,” tournament chairman Lalit Modi said.

Players are allowed to miss IPL matches only due to injury or if they have to represent their national teams in Tests or limited-overs internationals.

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