DHAKA // Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan all-rounder, was the most expensive of a host of international players sold at the inaugural auction for the new Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) on Thursday as he fetched US$700,000 (Dh2.5 million).
The former Pakistan captain hit the jackpot in a secret bidding process after he became the target of all six teams in the Twenty20 cricket tournament to be held next month.
"Shahid Afridi was bought for $700,000 dollars, the highest in the BPL auction, by our team Dhaka Gladiators," team spokesman Minhaz Khan told Agence France-Presse.
Chris Gayle, the hard-hitting West Indies batsman, was sold to Barisal Burners for $551,100 and Marlon Samuels, his comptriot, to Duronto Rajshahi for $360,000, according to live telecast by private Channel 9 Television.
The BPL is the Bangladeshi answer to Indian Premier League (IPL), which revolutionised cricket when it burst on to the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, Twenty20 matches and celebrity glamour.
Kieron Pollard, another West Indian, was sold to Dhaka for $300,000 and Nasir Hossain, the Bangladesh all-rounder, for $200,000 to Khulna. Shoaib Malik, the former Pakistan captain and all-rounder, and Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies batsman, each landed $150,000.
Seventeen foreign players were put on auction with a base price of $100,000 including Sri Lankan greats Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas, New Zealander Scott Styris and Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor.
Stuart MacGill, the former Australia leg-spinner, was one of 36 players auctioned with a base price of $50,000. He was sold to Dhaka at the base price.
Game On, an Indian company, bought the rights of the first six editions of BPL for around $44 million dollars last year. Six franchises were bought by Bangladeshi companies with a minimum price of one million dollars.