Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy hit the jackpot at the Indian Premier League auction on Tuesday after he was snared for Rs 8.4 crore ($1.2 million) by Kings XI Punjab.

The price tag surprised pundits gathered at Jaipur for the 2019 edition’s auction, where the 27-year-old went for 42 times base price of Rs 20 lakh.

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.

Varun 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 wasn’t a big-ticket event, as most teams chose to retain their players from last year.

The biggest trend on show was how sought after the Indian players, especially uncapped, were as shown in table below. You can read more about that here.

Biggest gainers among uncapped players

Name Price sold for (in Rs lakhs) Team sold to Times above the base price
Varun Chakaravarthy 840 KXIP 42
Shivam Dube 500 RCB 25
Prabhsimran Singh 480 KXIP 24
Akshdeep Nath 340 RCB 17
Prayas Ray Barman 150 RCB 7.5
Sherfane Rutherford 200 DC 5
Anmolpreet Singh 80 MI 4
Himmat Singh 65 RCB 3.25
Darshan Nalkande 30 KXIP 1.5
Shashank Singh 30 RR 1.5
Sarfaraz Khan 25 KXIP 1.25
All the above players had a base price of Rs 20 lakhs

Caribbean flavour

West Indies players proved to be the top draw among the foreigners, with big-hitter Carlos Brathwaite going for Rs 5 crore to the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise.

Brathwaite has a special connection with the city as in 2016, he had slammed four consecutive sixes to help West Indies win the World T20 final against England at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Another West Indies heavy hitter Shimron Hetmyer was lapped up for Rs 4.2 crore 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 one million dollars to Kings XI Punjab. His base price was $283,460.

Fellow Brit Jonny Bairstow won his first IPL contract, picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 2.2 crore, even though he is expected to play for just three weeks or so. The wicketkeeper-batsman had gone unsold in last year’s auction.

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.

It was also quite interesting that only two out of the 23 Australian cricketers who were in the auction were bought. With their availability in question due to the Sheffield Shield before IPL and early reporting for World Cup (though not all players were World Cup material), the franchises stayed from the Aussie cricketers.

Overall, England and West Indies players were the most sought after.

How the overseas players fared

Country Number of players in the auction Number of players bought
Australia 23 2
West Indies 18
England 19
New Zealand 13
South Africa 26 4
Sri Lanka 7 1
Associate (Netherlands, USA) 2 0
Afghanistan 8 0
Ireland 1 0
Bangladesh 2 0
Zimbabwe 2 0

Indian fast bowlers in demand

Among the capped players, Mohit Sharma was the biggest gainer, as he went for 10 times his base price to be reunited with MS Dhoni in Chennai. It was also a trend that saw Indian fast bowlers get plenty of bids, as Brainder Sran, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron and, of course, Unadkat going for much higher than their base price. Even Ishant Sharma found a taker in Delhi Capitals after being unsold in the previous auction.

Biggest gainers among capped players

Name Base price (in Rs lakhs) Price sold for (in Rs lakhs) Times above the base price
Mohit Sharma (CSK) 50 500 10.00
Shimron Hetmyer (RCB) 50 420 8.40
Barinder Sran (MI) 50 340 6.80
Carlos Brathwaite (KKR) 75 500 6.67
Jaydev Unadkat (RR) 75 840 5.60
Nicholas Pooran (KXIP) 150 420 5.60
Axar Patel (DC) 100 500 5.00
Mohammad Shami (KXIP) 100 480 4.80
Varun Aaron (RR) 50 240 4.80
Hanuma Vihari (DC) 50 200 4.00
Sam Curran (KXIP) 200 720 3.60
Colin Ingram (DC) 200 640 3.20
Oshane Thomas (KXIP) 50 110 2.20
Lockie Ferguson (KKR) 100 160 1.60
Jonny Bairstow (SRH) 75 220 1.47
Ishant Sharma (DC) 150 110 1.47
Wriddhiman Saha (SRH) 100 120 1.20
Rest of the players went for their base price

With AFP inputs