Naushad Shaikh, the former Maharashtra captain, emerged as the most sought-after cricketer during the Maharashtra Premier League (MPL) Player Auction, held in Pune on Tuesday.
While Shaikh emerged as the most expensive buy with a price tag of Rs. 6 lakh, bought by Punit Balan Group-owned Kolhapur Tuskers, the auction saw six teams combined splurging almost Rs. 1.20 crore during the event.
With each of the six MPL franchises being allotted an icon player to be bought pre-auction, the teams had a maximum of Rs. 20 lakh at its disposal, with a minimum of 15 players required to be bought.
Shaikh’s bidding saw the Tuskers and Puneri Bappa - with Shaikh’s best friend Ruturaj Gaikwad as its icon player - being involved in a tug-of-war until the Pune franchise pulled out after he had hit a figure 10 times more than his base price of Rs. 60,000.
The auction saw non-icon players being divided into three categories. The base price for each category was Rs. 60,000, Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 20,000, with those having played Ranji Trophy or senior limited overs’ cricket being in the top bracket.
While the Tuskers also got hold of Maharashtra’s Ranji captain Ankeet Bawane (Rs. 2.80 lakh) thus making it a fearsome batting line-up, all-rounder Divyang Hinganekar was the second-most expensive player. Hinganekar was signed by Ratnagiri Jets for Rs. 4.60 lakh. The franchise also had regional superstar Nikhil Naik on its roster, who fetched Rs. 3.60 lakh.
Leg-spinner Prashant Solanki, a member of Chennai Super Kings’ triumphant Indian Premier League campaign who has recently moved to Maharashtra from his alma mater Mumbai, was acquired by Rahul Tripathi-led Eagle Nashik Titans for Rs. 2.40 lakh.
The tournament will be played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s International Stadium at Gahunje, on the outskirts of Pune, from June 15. The tournament will also witness three women’s exhibition matches.
Top picks: Naushad Shaikh (Kolhapur Tuskers) Rs. 6 lakh; Divyang Hinganekar (Ratnagiri Jets) Rs. 4.60 lakh; Yash Nahar (Solapur Royals) Rs. 3.80 lakh; Sahil Autade (Kolhapur Tuskers) Rs. 3.80 lakh; Satyajeet Bachhav (Solapur Royals) Rs. 3.60 lakh; Nikhil Naik (Ratnagiri Jets) Rs. 3.40 lakh.
Icon players (fees yet to be disclosed)
- Puneri Bappa (Owner: Pravin Masalewale): Ruturaj Gaikwad
- Kolhapur Tuskers (Punit Balan Group): Kedar Jadhav
- Eagle Nashik Titans (Eagle Infra India Ltd.): Rahul Tripathi
- Chhatrapati Sambhaji Kings (Venkateshwara Industries): Rajvardhan Hangargekar
- Ratnagiri Jets (Jets Synthesis): Azim Kazi
- Solapur Royals (Kapil Sons Explosive LLP): Vicky Ostwal
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