(Updates at the end of the auction)
By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI, Feb.18 (Reuters) – South African all-rounder Chris Morris became the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) most expensive buy at Thursday’s player auction, while China’s Vivo returned as title sponsor of the eight-team tournament.
Six players, including three Australians, emerged millionaires from the auction ahead of this year’s tournament which is set to begin in April.
Morris returned to the Royals of Rajasthan for a staggering 162.5 million rupees ($ 2.2 million) following a fierce bidding war involving the Kings of Punjab.
“He’s one of those seasoned players who can face a price like this,” Rajasthan COO Jake Lush McCrum said on a video conference.
“We have rebalanced the team this year. He fulfills an important role for us,” he said of the 33-year-old all-rounder.
“A quality bowler for all phases of the game, and he can also win a game with a bat.”
The fast New Zealand Kyle Jamieson was nabbed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for 150 million rupees.
Bangalore also agreed to shell out 142.5 million euros for Glenn Maxwell, outbidding the Chennai Super Kings to seize the Australian multi-purpose explosive.
Australian rapids Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith joined the Punjab for 150 million rupees and 80 million respectively.
Uncapped Krishnappa Gowtham was the only Indian millionaire to join Chennai for 92.5 million rupees.
Among the uncapped players, Arjun Tendulkar was bought for two million Indian rupees ($ 27,546) by the reigning champions Mumbai Indians, who have his father and the great Sachin as the team’s mentor.
England’s all-rounder Moeen Ali was sold to Chennai for 70million rupees, while compatriot and top T20 batsman Dawid Malan joined Punjab for 15million.
Australian Steve Smith, who was released from Rajasthan last year, surrendered to the Delhi Capitals, coached by compatriot Ricky Ponting, for 22 million rupees.
Previously, IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed the return of Chinese smartphone maker Vivo as the main sponsor of the world‘s richest Twenty20 league.
Vivo had secured the IPL sponsorship rights for 2018-2022 for nearly 22 billion rupees, but withdrew from last year’s tournament amid a backlash against Chinese companies in India. = 72.6 Indian rupees)