Virat Kohli had publicly announced the desire to include Yuvraj Singh in his already formidable batting line-up. Royal Challengers Bangalore broke their bank to include India's 2011 World Cup hero and paid a record Rs 14 crore to buy the left-handed batting all-rounder in the first round of Indian Premier League players auction in Bangalore on Wednesday. Gautam Gambhir was the most expensive IPL player, having received Rs 11.04 crore from Kolkata Knight Riders in January 2011. Yuvraj also outshone England discard Kevin Pietersen, who will stay with Delhi Daredevils. The Delhi franchise, the only team to start from scratch, will pay a modest Rs 9 crore to the maverick Pietersen, who also became the first 'joker' in the auctions.
(Day 1 highlights | The auction rules | Full list of players - sold and unsold)
RCB team principal Vijay Mallya said: "We wanted to strengthen our bowling and Yuvraj will help do that. The team is looking good now."
The introduction of the right-to-match option has added spice to the auction. Called the 'joker' card, Delhi utilized this concept after Sunrisers Hyderabad made the highest Rs 9 crore bid for Pietersen. Delhi decided to match the price and retained the Englishman hungry to shine in the IPL once more. But it was Yuvraj who drew the biggest attraction as RCB and Kolkata Knight Riders were involved in a fierce bidding war. (Full IPL coverage)
In the second half of the morning session, Delhi continued to surprise after shelling out a whopping 12.5 crore for batsman-wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik. Mumbai Indians did not match the bid. Delhi are utilizing their Rs 60 crore cleverly. They got South African all-rounder J.P. Duminy for 2.2 and Manoj Tiwary for 2.8 after Kolkata did not use their right to match for the Bengal batsman.
Australian batsmen Aaron Finch went to Sunrisers Hyderabad for 4 crore after starting at his base price of 1 crore. KKR made a smart buy by getting Robin Uthappa for Rs 5 crore while Chennai snatched away West Indian batsman Dwayne Smith from Mumbai Indians by shelling out a modest 4.5 crore.
Delhi refused to buy Virender Sehwag after Kings XI Punjab bid Rs 3.2 crore on the former Indian dasher. KXIP have been aggressive in the auctions. They have bolstered their bowling by buying Ashes star Mitchell Johnson for 6.5 crore after Mumbai Indian did not exercise their right-to-match option.
Delhi have been cautious with their buys. Mahela Jayawardene had no takers. The Sri Lankan master batsman had a base price of Rs 2 Crore. There were no bids. New Zealand's Ross Taylor met a similar fate in spite of being in amazing form in the recent series against India at home. It seems age and current form have been yardsticks. Veteran star Jacques Kallis will stay with KKR after Chennai Super Kings bid the highest Rs 5.5 crore on the South African all-rounder who has retired from Test cricket. KKR used the 'joker' card to retain Kallis.
The all-rounders and the bowlers finally came to the party but surprisingly, there were no takers for Sri Lankan veteran star Tillakaratne Dilshan and UK-based Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood. RCB strengthened their bowling attack by buying Aussie Mitchell Starc for Rs 5 crore while Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India's latest pace twins, commanded Rs 4.25 crore each, from Sunrisers and Delhi, respectively. Umesh Yadav, with a base price of 1 crore, went to KKR for 2.6 crore while Vinay Kumar was bought by KKR for 2.8 crore, the same price the Kolkata team paid for South African pacer Morne Morkel.
Aussie all-rounder Steven Smith added muscle to Rajasthan Royals. He was paid a decent Rs 4 crore by the Rahul Dravid mentored side. The Pathan brothers got good deals. Yusuf Pathan was retained by KKR for 3.25 crore after Sunrisers made a dash for the out-of-form all-rounder. Younger brother Irfan went to Sunrisers Hyderabad for 2.4 crore after Delhi refused to exercise the right to match. KKR retained Shakib-al-Hasan for 2.8 crore after warding off fierce competition from Delhi. Sri Lankan star all-rounder Angelo Mathews went unsold.
South African baby-faced Quinton de Kock, expectedly, got the best deal among the wicketkeepers. Delhi snapped him up for 3.5 crore while Wriddhiman Saha was pouched by Kings XI for 2.2 crore. Parthiv Patel went to RCB for 1.4 crore. Probably the man who went laughing all the way to the bank was leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. The chubby bowler, who played for Kings XI last season, was bought by KKR for a whopping 4.25 crore. He had a base price of 50 lakh. Mumbai retained Pragyan Ojha for Rs 3.25 crore while Bangalore paid Rs 1.9 crore to the tall leg-spinner Rahul Sharma. Bangalore also retained retired off-spinner Muralitharan at his base price of Rs 1 crore. Ajantha Mendis, Nathan McCullum and Murali Kartik have gone unsold so far.