England may have jettisoned Kevin Pietersen, but the maverick batsman's hard-hitting ability fetched him the highest bid among foreign players at Wednesday's Indian Premier League (IPL) auction.

Pietersen, available for the entire duration of the cash-rich IPL after being shunned by England, was picked up by Delhi, the franchise he played for last year, for 90 million Indian rupees ($1.45 million) after an intense bidding war.

The Chennai, Hyderabad and Punjab franchises bid heavily for the 33-year-old, whose base price was 20 million Indian rupees ($321,200), but Delhi bagged his services after using their right to match the highest bid.

"Morning - so happy to be back with the Delhi family! Lovely start to the day," Pietersen, the former England captain, said on his Twitter account.

Demand for Pietersen

This year, players are being bought in Indian rupees instead of US dollars for the first time.

Other players bought in the first round of auction on Wednesday included Australia's Mitchell Johnson for £640,000 (65m rupees) by Kings XI Punjab and David Warner for £540,000 (55m rupees) by Sunrisers Hyderabad; South Africa's Jacques Kallis for £540,000 by Kolkata Knight Riders; and India's Virender Sehwag for £310,000 (32m rupees) by Kings XI Punjab.

The seventh edition of the 20-over tournament, which features eight teams, mixes floodlit cricket with Bollywood glitz and high-profile corporate sponsorship and runs from 8 April to 30 May.

Pietersen, who signed a new contract on Monday to play county cricket for Surrey, has played 21 IPL matches for either the Bangalore Royal Chargers or Delhi Daredevils, but missed last season's competition through injury.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies