India's captain and star playmaker Sardar Singh became the highest paid player as he went for a whopping $78,000 to Delhi Wave Riders while Uttar Pradesh Wizards bought ace drag-flicker V.R. Raghunath for $76,000 at the Hockey India League (HIL) players' auction here on Sunday.
Sardar with India team mate Sandeep Singh, Australian Jamie Dwyer, Dutch legend Teun De Nooijer and German Mortiz Fuertse were the marquee players of the league.
Dwyer was bought by Jaypee Punjab Warriors for $60,000, Fuertse by Ranchi Rhinos for $75,500 and Nooijer by Uttar Pradesh Wizards for $66,000.
But Sandeep, who is out of the team after a poor Olympics, was sold to Mumbai Magicians for a base price of $27,800. But thanks to Australian defender Joel Caroll, Sandeep will be getting a better pay package. Caroll was bought by Mumbai for $56,000 and as a marquee player Sandeep will be getting 15 percent more than the Australian.
The biggest disappointment of the day was former India captain and goalkeeper Bharat Chettri going unsold. The Kalimpong boy had a reserve price of $18,550.
Chettri, who led India to a last-place finish at the London Olympics, was dropped from the national squad after the Games.
India's other two goalkeepers got a good deal. First choice goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, with a reserve price of $13,900, was sold to Mumbai Magicians for $38,000 while P.T Rao, who made an impressive debut at the age of 34 at the Champions Trophy, was also sold to Mumbai for $17,000. Rao had a reserve price of $5,600.
Other important Indian players sold at the auction were S.V. Sunil (Punjab for $42,000), Yuvraj Walmiki (Delhi for $18,000), and Shivendra Singh (Punjab for $27,500).
Mumbai's Tushar Khandekar was sold for only $100 more than his reserve price of $13,900 to Uttar Pradesh while S.K. Uthappa went to the same team for $25,000 and Gurbaj Singh to Delhi for $36,000.
Ignace Tirkey, who had a reserve price of $13,900, went to Punjab for $31,000 while Rupinder Pal Singh, with a base price of $9,250, was sold to Uttar Pradesh for $56,000.
Unlike cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL), there were no problems with the auction of Pakistani players as the Mumbai franchise bought Fareed Ahmed for $21,000 and Mohammed Rashid for $41,000.
All teams have a purse of $650,000. Each team will comprise 24 players - 14 Indians and 10 overseas. The league will be held in five cities from Jan 17.
On being sold for the highest price, Sardar said: "It feels very good. I am enjoying the moment. Hopefully all players will get a good deal. There will a banter among the national team players about who are sold for what."