India’s Dhoni US$1.5mn, Sri Lanka Murali, US$600,000 at cricket auction

MUMBAI, Feb 20, 2008 (AFP) – India one-day captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni went for a huge 1.5 million dollars on Wednesday as some of the world’s best players were auctioned off for the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL). .

Chennai paid nearly four times the wicketkeeper-batsman’s base price of 400,000 dollars in the opening round of the novel sell-off, held before the lucrative tournament’s debut in April.

Eight franchise owners, including corporate tycoons and Bollywood actors, bid for 77 cricketers in a pioneering process that some observers believe will change the face of the game.

Retired Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne was bought by Jaipur at his base price of 450,000 dollars, while compatriot Adam Gilchrist went to Hyderabad for 700,000 dollars.

Record-breaking Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was bought by Chennai for 600,000 dollars, while his national captain Mahela Jayawardene went to Mohali for 475,000 dollars.

Kolkata bought controversial Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for 425,000 dollars as bidding, orchestrated by English auctioneer Richard Madley, continued at a five-star hotel.

The spending of eight teams — Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kol