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The Indian Premier League (IPL) players auction for the ninth edition of country's cash-rich T20 tournament lived up to its expectations and much hype on 6 February with a total of 351 cricketers going under the hammer for the eight coveted franchises.
Among the 230 Indian and 121 overseas cricketers in the auction pool, Australia's veteran all-rounder Shane Watson emerged as the most expensive pick following a massive Rs 9.5-cr bid by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Apart from Watson, Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh also fetched a handsome bid of Rs 7 crore from Sunrisers Hyderabad. South African seamer Chris Morris was also sold for Rs 7 crore to Delhi Daredevils.
But, the biggest story of this year's auction turned out to be the young Indian all-rounder Pawan Negi who was sold to Delhi Daredevils for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore - the second-highest bid this year.
Missing from the auction were the two suspended teams - Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals - who followed a set pattern in the previous auctions. Chennai believed in continuity while making their bids, while Rajasthan preferred value-buys.
Here's a look at the top six buys of this year's IPL players auction:
For a man who was dropped from the recent ODI series against India with many predicting his career might be coming to an end, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has come a long way. The 34-year-old cricketer attracted the highest bid for a marquee player in the IPL auction.
Watto, whose base price was Rs 2 crore, was eventually sold to the Vijay Mallya-owned Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping Rs 9.5 crore. The former Rajasthan Royals star was the subject of intense bidding from the new entrants Rising Pune Supergiants, before the Mumbai Indians joined the race in a bid to secure his services.
However, a massive bid from Bangalore forced the other franchises to fold their cards and eventually pull out of the race.
After bagging the highest bid, if you thought Watson was the biggest surprise in this year's auction, then think again. The 23-year-old Indian all-rounder, Pawan Negi, stunned everyone after attracting the second-highest bid of Rs 8.5 crore in the auction.
Delhi Daredevils secured the services of the former Chennai Super Kings player, whose base price was only Rs 30 lakh, with a massive bid to thwart advances from the other franchises.
The South African all-rounder Chris Morris, who had a base price of just Rs 50 lakh, turned out to be one of the biggest gainers this year following a massive Rs 7-cr bid from Delhi Daredevils.
The 28-year-old cricketer sparked a bidding war between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, until Delhi swooped in with a sensational bid to take home the player.
Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who became the most expensive player in the IPL history in 2015, might not have attracted a similar bid this time around, but he surely matched up the third-highest bid this year. The Punjab southpaw, with a base price of Rs 2 crore, was sold for Rs 7 crore to the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
In 2015, the 34-year-old went for a whopping Rs 16 crore (IPL record) when he was purchased by the Delhi Daredevils. However, a string of poor performances saw Delhi releasing the left-hander ahead of auction this year.
Former Chennai Super Kings bowler Mohit Sharma is placed fourth in our list of top buys this year. The 27-year-old, with a base price of Rs 1.5 crore, was sold to Kings XI Punjab for a staggering Rs 6.5 crore.
The Haryana cricketer attracted significant bids from both Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab, but the latter finally managed to seal the deal with a handsome price.
India's death bowling specialist Ashish Nehra was also amongst the biggest gainers in the IPL players auction this year. The 36-year-old, whose base price was Rs 2 crore, was eventually sold to Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping Rs 5.5 crore.
The left-arm seamer sparked a bidding war between Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad, with the latter finally bagging the player for a massive sum.