BANGALORE // Ravindra Jadeja, the India all-rounder, fetched a fee of more than US$2 million (Dh7.34m) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction on Saturday, with Chennai Super Kings prevailing in fierce bidding.
Jadeja played for Kochi Tuskers Kerala last year before the team was barred for non-payment of its fee to organisers, making him the most sought-after of 144 players on offer during an auction in which only eight of the nine teams participated.
Sahara Pune Warriors abstained as sponsors Sahara India announced only an hour before the auction that they intended to end their sponsorship of the Indian cricket team and would also not run their IPL team.
The auction went on expected lines with a demand for home players because of their assured availability.
Apart from Jadeja, other players going for hefty amounts during the auction included Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka batsman, to Delhi Daredevils for $1.4m, Vinay Kumar, the India medium pacer, to Royal Challengers Bangalore for $1m and New Zealand's Brendon McCullum to Kolkata Knight Riders for $900,000.
Sri Lankan spin great Muttiah Muralitharan went to Bangalore for $220,000, South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs ($50,000) and Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson ($300,000) were both taken by Mumbai Indians.
Brad Hogg, 40, who made a return to the Australian side during this week's two Twenty20 games against India, was bought by Rajasthan Royals for $180,000.
Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who now has a British passport, was bought by King's XI Punjab for $200,000.
Veteran India batsman VVS Laxman, who had a base price of $400,000, remained unsold along with prominent England players Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara.
The auction this year was primarily for Kochi players looking for new teams as well as others who had either remained unsold during the main auction last year or showed interest later on.
There have been some other changes for the coming season as well, with England batsman Kevin Pietersen moving from Deccan to Delhi, Dinesh Karthik joining Mumbai from Kings XI Punjab, and Pragyan Ojha going from Deccan to Mumbai during a transfer window last month.
Teams have been allowed to increase their squads from 30 to 33 and the number of foreign players from 10 to 11. However, only a maximum of four foreigners can play in any game.
This year's IPL will be played from April 4 to May 27.
Meanwhile, India's national cricket team lost their major sponsors, Sahara India, after an 11-year association.
The sponsorship contract was not due to expire until next year but Sahara said they will only stay on for a few months while the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) finds a replacement. Sahara had been paying Dh2.45 million for each international.
The group cited instances where they felt the BCCI had not been flexible. They also indicated they were disappointed Pune could not replace all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, ruled out of this year's IPL due to a non-malignant lung tumour.