Rising pace bowler Jaydev Unadkat joined Ben Stokes in the Rajasthan Royals for $1.8 million on Sunday but a host of foreign stars failed to get deals in the Indian Premier League auction.
The Royals made Unadkat the second most expensive player in the auction behind England’s Stokes who they bought for $1.96 million on the opening day.
Stokes — still facing an assault criminal case in England — and Unadkat will join Australian captain Steve Smith at the Royals as they return to the lucrative T20 league after a two-year illegal gambling ban.
The Royals were inaugural IPL champions in 2008 but were barred for two seasons with Chennai Super Kings in 2015 over an illegal gambling scandal.
The team also paid almost $1 million for uncapped Indian off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham as they splashed out more than $10.3 million over the weekend. But they are certain it is money well spent.
Royals executive chairman Ranjit Borthakur shrugged off any doubts about Stokes’ legal troubles preventing him from playing in India.
“We are prepared for legal consequences too. He will be a very important part of the team. We are like a start-up company. We are restarting,” Borthakur said.
There was disappointment though as a host of England players failed to find bidders, including Test skipper Joe Root, one day captain Eoin Morgan and opener Alex Hales.
Root, along with South Africa’s Hashim Amla and Sri Lanka paceman Lasith Malinga did not attract bids in Saturday’s first round and were not even called back for the second day.
South Africa quick Dale Steyn, Australia batsman Shaun Marsh, as well as New Zealand’s Corey Anderson and Martin Guptill were called back but did not attract an offer.
West Indies batsman Chris Gayle only found a place in the third round of bidding when Kings XI Punjab claimed him at the reserve price of $314,000.
Gayle is one of the T20 league’s most prolific scorers but disappointed last year with just 200 runs in nine games for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
– Nepal entry –
The second day belonged to Indian and lesser-known talent with the 26-year-old Unadkat, who has played one Test and seven one-day internationals, drawing bigger bids than big home names.
Indian batsmen Manish Pandey and Lokesh Rahul both pocketed $1.7 million after being sold to Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab respectively on Saturday.
Mumbai Indians on Sunday took West Indies’ left-handed opener Evin Lewis for $600,000.
Among other foreign players to draw bids was Australia all-rounder Dan Christian, who was sold to Delhi Daredevils for $238,000 and England’s Sam Billings went to Chennai for $158,000.
Teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane became the first Nepalese to land an IPL deal. Delhi Daredevils paid $318,000 for him.
Lamichhane, 17, took 14 wickets in the under-19 World Cup last year when Nepal came eighth.
“We will have some new fans for IPL. It will be good for the kid, I hope this will start a cricket revolution in Nepal,” said Delhi Daredevils chief executive Hemant Dua said.
Some 581 players were up for auction ahead of the season which runs from April 7 to May 27. The IPL has been boosted by a new five year $2.5-billion media deal.