NEW DELHI (Reuters) - England all-rounder Ben Stokes demonstrated he remains cricket’s hot property despite his off-field troubles after being sold for $1.97 million in Saturday’s auction ahead of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament.
Rajasthan Royals offered 125 million Indian rupees for the 26-year-old who has been charged with affray following an incident in Bristol last September which cost him a place on England’s Ashes tour of Australia.
“Buzzing to be representing @rajasthanroyals in this years IPL and great to be playing alongside @josbuttler,” tweeted Stokes, who was judged IPL’s Most Valuable Player last year when he represented the Pune franchise.
Stokes reunites with Australia captain Steve Smith, who was also at Pune last year. Rajasthan and Chennai return to the league after a two-year suspension following a corruption scandal.
National team mate and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler joined Stokes at Rajasthan but England captain Joe Root found no taker on the opening day of the two-day auction.
The eight franchises also showed no interest in West Indies opener Chris Gayle and fellow Twenty20 stalwart Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka who is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament’s decade-old history.
Hyderabad used their right-to-match option to retain Rashid Khan for 90 million rupees after Punjab made an aggressive bid for the teenaged Afghan spinner.
Australian players, once again, earned big bucks ahead of the 11th edition of the Twenty20 league beginning in April.
Kolkata bought Australia’s limited overs specialist Chris Lynn for 96 million rupees and their Ashes hero Mitchell Starc for 94 million, while Delhi secured the service of all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for 90 million.
Sussex all-rounder Jofra Archer’s stellar Big Bash performance for Hobart Hurricanes made him the subject of a fierce bidding war which ended with Rajasthan buying the Barbados-born player for 72 million rupees, 18 times his base price.
Among the Indians, batsmen Manish Pandey (Hyderabad) and Lokesh Rahul (Punjab) went for 110 million rupees.
($1 = 63.57 Indian rupees)
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Pritha Sarkar