Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Brendon McCullum on Thursday hailed Australia pacer Pat Cummins as “the best player of the auction” and didn’t mind his side shelling out Rs 15.50 crore for him, the most expensive foreign recruit in Indian Premier League history.

Teams going all out for the 26-year-old was expected. Cummins is one of the leading pacers in the world at the moment. The former New Zealand captain believes Cummins’ injury worries are behind him. “I thought he was the best player of the auction...as a cricketer he’s grown, his body has become robust,” McCullum said.

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He added: “He is now the vice-captain of Australia, which is a mark of his development. It’s wonderful to secure a world-class player.”

Cummins is the No 1 bowler in ICC Test rankings and has 92 wickets in 77 career T20 matches at an economy of just over seven. Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore were engaged in an intense bidding war for Cummins before KKR joined the battle at Rs 15 crore, and eventually outbid the two franchises. Cummins has taken 32 wickets in 25 IPL matches so far with an economy of touch above six.

With the price he fetched, Cummins broke the record for the most expensive foreign buy, which was held by Ben Stokes. The England all-rounder was bought by Rising Pune Supergiant for Rs 14.5 crore in the 2017 auction.

Asked why they bid so late for the Australian pacer, KKR CEO Venky Mysore said: “We would have come in earlier. We were certainly interested in him. He played for us (in the past). We were determined to get him when we got the first opportunity we got him.”

KKR also bought England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan for Rs 5.25 crore. Like Cummins, he has also played for KKR in the past. Asked about the possibility of Morgan leading KKR in the 2020 edition, McCullum clarified that Dinesh Karthik will remain the skipper.

He said: “It gives me an opportunity to announce that Dinesh Karthik is definitely our captain. What we were after was to provide as much experience, quality and leadership around him. Morgan is one of the best leaders going around at the moment.

“He will be a perfect lieutenant for Karthik and will also fill that batting spot at No 4. He’s in the form of his life. Really pleased to get him. In the last couple of years, he has played very, very freely. He knows the set up.”