DUBAI : Australia’s Mitchell Starc became the most expensive player in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after drawing an eye-watering $2.98 million bid from Kolkata Knight Riders in the players’ auction on Tuesday.
Australia captain Pat Cummins briefly held that honour after Sunrisers Hyderabad agreed to splash $2.46 million for his service before Starc bettered that number.
Barely a month after leading Australia to the 50-overs World Cup win in India, Cummins entered the auction with a base price of 20 million Indian rupees ($240,473).
IPL heavyweights Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings were initially interested in him but both dropped out as a two-way bidding war erupted.
Royal Challengers Bangalore doggedly chased Cummins but 2016 champions Hyderabad had the last laugh in the tug-of-war over the fast bowler, who has also evolved as a handy lower-order hitter.
England all-rounder Sam Curran’s 185 million rupees bid from Punjab Kings at last year’s auction was the previous best mark.
Cummins also provides a leadership option at Hyderabad, though head coach Daniel Vettori stay tight-lipped about that prospect.
“There’s a lot of cricket left before the IPL,” former New Zealand captain Vettori said.
“We’ll have to get through that and then we’ll make a decision closer to that time.”
Back after an eight-year gap, left-arm quick Starc was in demand as soon as his name was put under the hammer with Mumbai and Delhi vying for his help.
Both, however, retreated as bidding intensified and Kolkata trumped Gujarat Titans by making the winning bid for the 33-year-old.
“You should expect this. Because IPL is growing, salary caps will grow and so will player fees,” Kolkata chief executive Venky Mysore said of their aggressive chase of Starc.
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell also struck it rich after Chennai splashed 140 million rupees to buy the batting all-rounder at 10 times his base price.
India seamer Harshal Patel also became a millionaire joining Punjab Kings for 117.5 million rupees in the sale, which was held outside India for the first time.
The Indian cricket board has not announced the dates but next year’s IPL is expected to be played between March and May.
Unsold stars included former Australia captain Steve Smith and England spinner Adil Rashid.