Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi was the most expensive of a host of international stars sold at the inaugural auction for the new Bangladesh Premier League on Thursday as he fetched $700,000.
The former Pakistani 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 AFP.
Hard-hitting West Indies batsman Chris Gayle was sold to Barisal Burners for $551,100 and his compatriot Marlon Samuels 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.
West Indian Kieron Pollard was sold to Dhaka for $300,000 and Bangladeshi all-rounder Nasir Hossain for $200,000 to Khulna. Ex-Pakistani captain Shoaib Malik and West Indies batsman Dwayne Bravo 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.
Ex-Australian Stuart MacGill was one of 36 players auctioned with a base price of $50,000. The leg-spinner was sold to Dhaka at the base price.
Indian company Game On 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.