Pietersen and Flintoff fetch top dollar
England stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff became the highest-priced players in the Indian Premier League today.
Pietersen, who had a reserve price of $1.35million, was eventually sold to Bangalore Royal Challengers for $1.55m, while Flintoff was snapped up by the Chennai Super Kings for the same price.
"We were very keen on Pietersen and I'm glad I got him at the price I paid," said Royal Challengers team owner Vijay Malaya.
"He is a superb addition to the team and I, of course, would love him to play for six weeks rather than three.”
Asked if Pietersen would lead the team, Mallya added: "The captaincy slot is open, but a decision will be made after a discussion.
“Pietersen will be with us for three weeks and that is something we have to take into consideration."
N Srinivasan of the Chennai Super Kings was pleased with the acquisition of Flintoff.
He said: "He is an outstanding all-rounder and will improve the balance of the team.”
Fellow England players Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah were both bought by the Delhi Daredevils for $275,000.
Collingwood went just above his reserve price of $250,000, while Shah had a reserve price of $150,000.
Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara attracted "fierce bidding" and was finally sold to Kings XI Punjab for $450,000 but there were no bidders for Sussex batsman Luke Wright and all-rounder Samit Patel and they remain unsold.
IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said: "There are only limited slots, there are 50 players and you cannot expect to have all the players sold.
"The teams have strategies and they normally put in a lot more players so that they get the other teams to bid for them in the hope of upsetting their plan.”
The Kings XI believe Bopara will suit their plans.
"He is a great player and an all-rounder and we wanted such a player," said Kings XI Punjab co-owner Priety Zinta.
"We think he would be perfect for Kings XI Punjab and we think we are happy we got what we wanted.”
Bopara, like Shah, is not bound by the three-week window agreed between the ECB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India for contracted players and can therefore be available for a month.
“To be able to play in the same team as guys you’ve played against around the world will be fantastic,” enthused Bopara. “It will be like playing in an all-star team, it will be incredible.
“Just being around these sorts of guys will be exciting and you know you’re going to learn a hell of a lot from them.
“Talking and playing with guys from India, Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa will be a great opportunity to learn as a cricketer and I’m pretty sure that if I do get my chance I will come back with bundles of information I can put into my own game.”
The 23-year-old continued: “It’s going to be a great stage for cricketers like to me to really make a name for themselves in the Twenty20 format and push myself forward for England in one-day cricket.
“It’s an aggressive format of cricket and that’s been transferred to one-day cricket with scores getting higher and higher and I think you need to be able to play aggressively if you’re going to be successful and the best way to learn that is by playing Twenty20 cricket.”
He added: “You need certain skills to survive out there playing that like being able to hit the ball cleanly out of the park.
“As a bowler you need to be able to run in and bowl a yorker at will and learn different styles of bouncers and slower balls. It’s a great test of your skill and it does improve you as a cricketer.”
Every England player who receives an IPL contract will be paid on a pro-rata basis based on how many games they are available for and, as part of the agreement to release them for the prestigious tournament, will have to give 10% of their earnings to their counties.
Wright and Patel's only chance of making the IPL this year is if the franchises pick them up as replacements for the Pakistani players, who have been barred from taking part by their government, after the auction.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Indians won the race for South Africa’s JP Duminy, paying US$ 950,000 - 650,000 more than his reserve price.
Australia fast bowler Shaun Tait also fared well with the Rajasthan Royals splashing out US$ 375,000.
Final official list of players bought at the Indian Premier League auction (reserve price in brackets, prices in US dollars):
Australia: Shaun Tait, 375,000 (250,000), Rajasthan Royals. George Bailey, 50,000 (50,000), Chennai Super Kings.
Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful, 75,000 (75,000), Mumbai Indians. Mashrafe Mortaza, 600,000 (50,000), Kolkata Knight Riders.
England: Kevin Pietersen, 1,550,000 (1,350,000), Bangalore Royal Challengers. Andrew Flintoff, 1,550,000 (950,000), Chennai Super Kings. Ravi Bopara, 450,000 (150,000), Kings XI Punjab. Owais Shah, 275,000 (150,000), Delhi Daredevils. Paul Collingwood, 275,000 (250,000), Delhi Daredevils.
New Zealand: Jesse Ryder, 160,000 (100,000), Bangalore Royal Challengers. Kyle Mills, 150,000 (150,000), Mumbai Indians.
South Africa: JP Duminy, 950,000 (300,000), Mumbai Indians. Tyron Henderson, 650,000 (100,000), Rajasthan Royals.
Sri Lanka: Thilan Thushara, 140,000 (100,000), Chennai Super Kings.
West Indies: Fidel Edwards, 150,000 (150,000), Deccan Chargers, Hyderabad. Dwayne Smith, 100,000 (100,000), Deccan Chargers. Jerome Taylor, 150,000 (150,000), Kings XI Punjab.