Stokes strikes it rich at IPL auction

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Even before auctioneer Richard Madley had raised his head to formally invite bids for Ben Stokes, the paddles had gone up.

What followed was an intense scramble for his services, eventually making the English all-rounder the most expensive overseas signing at an IPL auction.

Stokes was sold to Rising Pune Supergiants for ₹14.5 crore here on Monday, with compatriot Tymal Mills not far behind, joining Royal Challengers Bangalore for ₹12 crore.

Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan Arman became the first Afghan players in the IPL, the latter earning a hefty ₹4 crore, while Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada both hit the 5-crore mark.

Karn Sharma emerged the most expensive Indian player of the tenth IPL auction, heading to Mumbai Indians for 3.2 crore.

There was ample reward for uncapped domestic talent: Tamil Nadu's T. Natarajan sold for 30 times his base price of 10 lakh, Hyderabad's Mohammed Siraj was acquired for 2.6 crore, Rajasthan's Aniket Choudhary 2, and Karnataka's K. Gowtham 2. It is fair to say none of the three players expected such numbers.

A hitherto quiet morning was suddenly enlivened when Stokes' name came up for auction, in the second lot of names.

The Mumbai Indians and RCB tables had already raised their paddles, and Delhi Daredevils joined the bidding at 4.5 crore.

Mumbai carried on, seemingly prepared to exhaust its purse of 11.55 crore purse, before the price soared past that figure.

Sunrisers Hyderabad also jumped in before Rising Pune Supergiants, the last suitor, succeeded.

It did not matter to Sanjiv Goenka, owner of the Pune franchise, that it had nearly reached the bottom of its 17.5 crore purse, or that Stokes was a doubt to stay for the full duration of the tournament.

"Ben Stokes was our No.1, 2, and 3 preference," he said.

Delhi, which entered the hall in the morning with a purse of 23 crore, bought big and early, securing the services of Angelo Mathews (2 crore), Corey Anderson (1 crore), Rabada (5 crore), and Pat Cummins (4.5).

RCB's first player of the day was Pawan Negi (1 crore), the heaviest earner from last year's auction.

In search of a replacement for left-arm quick Mitchell Starc, RCB pursued England's Tymal Mills, who as a T20 specialist is not expected to be part of England's ODI engagements. Mumbai opened the bidding at 50 lakh, showing no signs of backing down, before Punjab and Delhi joined the battle. RCB and KKR, though, took it beyond 10 crore, and the former eventually sealed the deal at 12 crore, 24 times the player's base price.

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