JAIPUR – Little-known Indian mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy hit the jackpot at the Indian Premier League auction on Tuesday after he was snared for $1.2 million by Kings XI Punjab.
The price tag surprised pundits gathered at Jaipur for the 2019 T20 tournament auction, where the 27-year-old only had a base price of two million rupees ($28 400).
After a fierce bidding war, the bowler emerged as the most expensive player in this year’s sell-off along with Indian left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat, bagged by Rajasthan Royals for the same price.
“What a bid! Varun Chakaravarthy joins us for the new season of IPL!” the Punjab franchise tweeted.
Chakravarthy began playing cricket when he was 13, but took up architecture after several rejections in age-group cricket.
He later returned to the game, honing his skills as a spinner able to bowl both off- and leg-breaks, with quite a few tricks under his hat.
More than 350 players went under the hammer on Tuesday, including 120 international cricketers, in what is the world’s wealthiest cricket league.
West Indies players proved to be the top draw among the foreigners, with big-hitter Carlos Brathwaite going for $707 150 to the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
“What a fantastic buy. We all know what Carlos did at Eden back in 2016! Everyone remembers the name!” KKR said on Twitter.
That year, Brathwaite slammed four consecutive sixes to help West Indies win the World T20 final against England at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
KKR, led by India’s Dinesh Karthik, finished third in the IPL 2018. They have won the lucrative championship twice, in 2012 and 2014.
Another West Indies heavy hitter Shimron Hetmyer was lapped up for $594 195 by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The 21-year-old, who impressed during the recent West Indies tour of India, will be making his IPL debut.
England’s rising star Sam Curran was sold for $1 million to Kings XI Punjab. His base price was $283 460.
Fellow Brit Jonny Bairstow won his first IPL contract, picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad for $311 982. The wicket-keeper batsman had gone unsold in last year’s auction.
“Delighted to be joining @SunRisers for #IPL2019! Can’t wait to get started for the #OrangeArmy,” he wrote on Twitter.
There were no takers though for New Zealand stars Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill, as well as Chris Woakes of England in the first round.