IPL auction: Watson, Negi emerge biggest millionaires

NEW DELHI: Shane Watson emerged the biggest of purchases from the 2016 IPL player auction in Bangalore, finding his second franchise in Royal Challengers Bangalore who forked out Rs 9.5 crore for his services, but the real head-turner of the day was uncapped Indian allrounder Pawan Negi. A day after he was named in India's squad for the Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20, the 23-year-old found his IPL value skyrocket from a base price of just Rs 30 lakh to a whopping 8.5 crore with Delhi Daredevils putting in the highest bid.

That made Negi the most expensive Indian player, surpassing the likes of Yuvraj Singh (7 crore) and Mohit Sharma (6.5 crore) on a day in which 136 crore was spent on 94 cricketers across the eight IPL franchises.

Noticeable among those to fetch multi-crore paychecks were South African allrounder Chris Morris, who went for Rs 7 crore to Delhi Daredevils (14 times his base price), Ashish Nehra (5.5 crore) and Deepak Hooda (4.2 crore) to Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mitchell Marsh (4.8 crore) and little-known Tamil Nadu spinner Murugan Ashwin (4.5 crore) to Rising Pune Super Giants, Sanju Samson and West Indies allrounder Carlos Braithwate for 4.2 crore each to Daredevils.

Negi, who two seasons ago had been signed by the suspended Chennai Super Kings, saw new IPL franchise Pune, led by his former CSK captain MS Dhoni and coached by Stephen Fleming, engage in a bidding war with Daredevils. In the end, the GMR-owned franchise put in the highest bid. That gave the Delhi cricketer the second highest price tag of the day after Watson.

The Australian, who for eight seasons has represented Rajasthan Royals until their suspension last year, attracted heavy bidding from RCB and Mumbai Indians, but it the Vijay Malya-owned franchise nabbed his services from a base price of 2 crore. Watson recently scored the second-highest individual score in Twenty20 internationals, and apart from his all-round value he also offers RCB a strong leadership role.

The third highest earners were Yuvraj, who went to Sunrisers, and Morris. After an initial moment of inactivity around the auction room in Bangalore, Sunrisers and Mumbai started a bidding tussle for Yuvraj, which eventually ended at 7 crore. From the pool of allrounders, the most bidding was for Morris, with Mumbai and KKR chasing the South African eagerly until the paddle went down at a huge Rs 7 crore by Daredevils, in their first bid of the round.

At 6.5 crore, Mohit Sharma was Kings XI Punjab's biggest spend, from his reserve price of 1.5 crore. Among those players who have limited international experience, the selection of 27-year-old Braithwate - with 307 runs and 33 wickets from 37 T20 games - for 14 times his reserve price was surprising. Daredevils had staved off serious waging from KKR to seal the deal at 4.2 crore and just moments later the West Indian allrounder tweeted a smiley face that found multiple retweets.

From the uncapped players set, surging from base prices of just 10 lakh were the young Baroda allrounder Deepak Hooda to a mammoth 4.2 crore and Karnataka batsman Karun Nair not far behind at Rs 4 crore. The former Rajasthan Royals team-mates went to Daredevils and Sunrisers respectively. After spending heavily on Samson, Daredevils added U-19 vice-captain Rishabh Pant for 1.9 crore from a base of 10 lakh. 

The other IPL entrant, Rajkot-based Gujarat Lions, invested in three overseas players in Dwayne Smith (2.3 crore), Dale Steyn (2.3 crore) and Aaron Finch (1 crore) while acquiring Praveen Kumar (3.5 crore), Dinesh Karthik (2.3 crore) and Dhawal Kulkarni (2 crore) to lend their squad a solid Indian presence. They spent on several uncapped players too, pitching up 1 crore for Uttar Pradesh wicketkeeper Eklavya Dwivedi, 35 lakh for current India Under-19 captain Ishan Kishan and 1 lakh on Himachal Pradesh veteran Paras Dogra.

Mumbai's biggest spend was big-hitting England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler (3.8 crore), followed by rookie Rajasthan seamer bowler Nathu Singh (3.2 crore from a base price of 10 lakh) and New Zealand quick Tim Southee (2.5 crore). They dipped into their purse to select two virtually unknown players too, Baroda's Krunal Pandya for 2 crore and the Karnataka Premier League's Kishore Kamath.

Aside from Nehra, Sunrisers added two additional left-arm pace options in Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman at 1.4 crore and Barinder Sran at 1.2 crore. KXIP bolstered their bowling by getting South Africa's Kyle Abbott for Rs 2.1 crore, significantly more than his base price of 30 lakh. Kolkata Knight Riders were the most low-key of franchise, spending a maximum of 1.6 crore on Jaydev Unadkat. The two-time title winners added Jason Holder, John Hastings and Ankit Rajpoot to their pace bowling core, and the big-hitting New Zealander Colin Munro as one of their overseas batsmen.

Surprisingly, one of the marquee players, New Zealand opener Martin Guptill, went unsold twice. Other players who were passed on where the in-form Usman Khawaja, Michael Hussey and Pragyan Ojha.

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