England stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff lived up to their billing as the star attractions at the Indian Premier League auction by snaring £1million contracts.
Pietersen and Flintoff fetched $1.55million (£1.058million) apiece, the only players to breach the one-million mark, and will now be paid more than Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who fetched USD1.5million last year.
Pietersen, who had a reserve price of USD1.35million, was eventually sold to Bangalore Royal Challengers, while Flintoff was snapped up by the Super Kings for considerably more than his reserve price of USD950,000.
Royal Challengers owner Vijay Mallya was pleased with the acquisition of Pietersen.
"We were very keen on Pietersen and I’m glad I got him for the price I eventually paid," Mallya said.
"We had a list of players we wanted this time and Pietersen was on top of that list.
"He is a superb addition to the team and I would have paid more to get him for the Royal Challengers."
Three other England players were bought at the auction but there were no takers for Luke Wright and Samit Patel - one of the first players from England to declare an interest in the IPL.
The Kings XI Punjab splashed USD450,000 for all-rounder Ravi Bopara, while Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood both went to the Delhi Daredevils for USD275,000 apiece.
Wright and Patel still have a chance to feature if they are bought as replacements.
The IPL have given teams the option of either terminating contracts with Pakistan players or suspending their contracts because of the Pakistan government’s decision to ban players from travelling to India for the twenty20 competition.
Four replacement slots are available and franchises can pick players from the original list of 115 players who had declared an interest in the auction.
While Pietersen and Flintoff drew the big bucks, it was Bangladesh fast bowler Mashrafe Bin Mortaza who made the biggest strides in terms of value.
Mortaza, who came in at a reserve price of USD50,000, was eventually bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders for USD600,000.
Of the five South Africans in the list for the auction, only two were sold.
JP Duminy, who had a reserve price of USD300,000, was bought by Mumbai Indians for USD950,000 while last year’s champions, Rajasthan Royals, snapped up Tyron Henderson for USD650,000 - more than six times his reserve price.
Australian players’ availability seemed to reduce their marketability as only two players found bidders.
Shaun Tait went to the Royals for USD375,000 while Tasmanian batsman George Bailey was bought by the Chennai Super Kings at his reserve price of USD50,000.