Australia’s Mitchell Starc became the most expensive signing in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL), topping the record figure paid for teammate Pat Cummins at the competition’s auction a few hours earlier.
Starc, a left-arm pacer who was last in the IPL eight years ago, was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.98m on Tuesday.
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“We won, Mr Starc!” the franchise posted on X.
That beat the fee paid by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Cummins, who went for $2.46m.
Before this auction, the record signing was England bowler Sam Curran after he joined Punjab Kings for $2.23m last year.
Barely a month after leading Australia to the 50-overs World Cup title in India, Cummins entered the auction with a base price of 20 million Indian rupees ($240,458).
We won, Mr. Starc! 💜 pic.twitter.com/twJ3VmCPDl
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) December 19, 2023
IPL heavyweights Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings were initially interested in him but both dropped out as a two-way bidding war ensued.
Royal Challengers Bangalore doggedly pursued Cummins but 2016 champions Hyderabad had the last laugh in the tug-of-war over the fast bowler, who has also evolved as a handy lower-order hitter.
Cummins also provides a leadership option at Hyderabad, though head coach Daniel Vettori remained tight-lipped about that prospect.
“There’s a lot of cricket left before the IPL,” former New Zealand captain Vettori said.
“We’ll have to get through that and then we’ll make a decision closer to that time.”
Back after an eight-year gap, left-arm quick Starc was in demand as soon as his name was put under the hammer with Mumbai and Delhi vying for his service.
Both, however, retreated as bidding intensified and Kolkata trumped Gujarat Titans by offering the winning bid for the 33-year-old.
“You should expect this. Because IPL is growing, salary caps will grow and so will player fees,” Kolkata chief executive Venky Mysore said of their aggressive pursuit of Starc.
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell also struck it rich after Chennai splashed 140 million rupees ($1.68m) to acquire the batting all-rounder at 10 times his base price.
India seamer Harshal Patel also became a millionaire joining Punjab Kings for 117.5 million rupees ($1.4m) in the auction, which was held outside India for the first time.
The Indian cricket board has not announced the dates but next year’s IPL is likely to be played between March and May.
Unsold players included former Australia captain Steve Smith and England spinner Adil Rashid.