England’s Ben Stokes sold for record $2.16m at IPL


Ben Stokes in action against India in Nagpur
Ben Stokes in action against India in Nagpur

and in May.

Pune coach Stephen Fleming admitted it was something of a “gamble” to pay so much for a player with a history of injury problems, but that Stokes will add extra flair to a team that already has Australia captain Steve Smith and ex-Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in its ranks.

“It’s a risk but we are ready to take it. We have got all-round options and (it) gives us more options down the order,” the former New Zealand captain told reporters.

“We are going to put youngsters under big players and keep our fingers crossed.”

Stokes has had his share of verbal run-ins with Australia in Ashes Test matches, but Smith welcomed him with open arms and joked that he expected his new teammate to buy him a drink now he was flush with cash.

“Welcome to Pune @benstokes38 first round is on you!” Smith wrote on Twitter.

While Stokes had been expected to attract big bids, the fee for Mills was unexpected but underlines his form on England’s recent tour of India, when he was his side’s most economical fast bowler.

Bangalore have no shortage of batting talent with Indian skipper Virat Kohli and South Africa’s AB de Villiers already on board.

But Mills’ signing should address the lack of a top-quality fast bowler for last year’s beaten finalists.

Other players to hit the jackpot included New Zealand seamer Trent Boult and South Africa’s Kagiso Rabda who were both sold for around Rs 50m each for Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils, respectively.

The Delhi franchise also bought Australian paceman Pat Cummins for Rs 45m, while compatriot Mitchell Johnson, who quit international cricket in 2015, returned to his former team Mumbai Indians for Rs 20m.

Meanwhile, the auction saw the first Afghan players to be signed up to the tournament, with Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi going to Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 40m and Rs 3m, respectively.

While most of India’s big name players are already attached to franchises, several newcomers bagged lucrative deals such as Karn Sharma (Mumbai Indians, Rs 32m) and T Natarajan (Kings XI Punjab, Rs 30m).

The IPL, which was first held in 2008, begins on April 5 and runs until May 21.