Indian and New Zealand skippers MS Dhoni and Brendon McCullum were drafted for over one million dollars into new teams on Tuesday (15) for next season’s Indian Premier League.
A new team from the western city of Pune paid Rs 125 million (£1.2 million) for limited overs captain Dhoni for the 2016 Twenty20 tournament.
Dhoni joins Australian captain Steven Smith, who was sold for Rs 55m (£541,000) and South African T20 skipper Faf du Plessis, who went for `40m (£394,000) on the same team.
The other franchise from the western city of Rajkot chose McCullum for Rs 75m (£720,000), Aussie all-rounder James Faulkner for Rs 55m and West Indian Dwayne Bravo for Rs 40m.
The franchises have replaced Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals – teams banned from the glitzy event for two years on the recommendation of a Supreme Court-appointed panel, after a corruption scandal.
They were allowed to choose five stars from each of the banned teams, while the rest were released into a pool for auction.
Australia’s Shane Watson and Mike Hussey, South Africa’s Chris Morris and the West Indies’ Dwayne Smith remain unsold and will now be auctioned in Bangalore in February.
The 2013 IPL was mired in controversy after police launched legal proceedings against several officials from the teams and three Royals’ players for illegal betting and spot-fixing.
Suresh Raina, who played for the Super Kings alongside Dhoni, fetched Rs 125m from Rajkot, which also chose all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
“Excited to play for the beautiful vibrant city Rajkot in @IPL. Looking forward to have new teammates and support from the people of Gujarat (sic),” Raina tweeted.
He later added: “I am very much familiar with the conditions in Rajkot as I have played many matches in junior categories. Jadeja is also a local boy. We will use this to our advantage”.
Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane and spinner R Ashwin were picked by Pune for Rs 95m and Rs 75m.
Both Chennai and Rajasthan are expected to return to the IPL after their bans end following the 2017 edition. The ninth version will be played from April 9 to May 29.
Pune franchise representative Subroto Talukdar said of Dhoni’s signing: “Whatever we had planned, we have got. We wanted Dhoni as we are a new franchise and want to build our brand. Who better than Dhoni? He was an automatic choice. We have got the players we wanted.
“The name of the team and logo will be announced next week. We work out of Kolkata, so shifting to Pune will take some time. But we have the experience of running a team in ISL (under the Pune Warriors name).”
Rajkot franchise owner Keshav Bansal added: “We had a strategy and we knew Dhoni was not available. So Raina was a strong option. On the Rajkot pitch we need aggressive batsmen as well as strong bowlers. We needed to have a balanced team.”
“We are a new franchise while others have the advantage of playing in the first eight seasons. But we will learn from their mistakes. My personal twitter is flooded with tweets. We will be announcing the captain soon.”