Panaji: The much-anticipated second round of Indian Premier League auction was concluded on Friday afternoon in Goa and it turned out to be more dramatic than expected.
Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff stormed into the million-dollar league, becoming the most expensive buys even as some virtual unknown cricketers became the centre-piece of fierce bidding wars.
It was clear as soon as the day started that the teams were in the auction hall with a clear plan in mind.
So Nita Ambani led the charge for the Mumbai Indians, staving off competition to pick up the impressive Jean-Paul Dumniy at more than three times his base price for $950,000.
"We wanted to have a batsman, another middle order batsman and a bowler; so we have achieved all this and we wanted to have people who will be with us for the full season because last year we had a problem," Nita Ambani said.
But soon the big news of the IPL auction was out. The Chennai Super Kings broke their own record by picking up Andrew Flintoff for $1.55 million (Rs 7.35 crore) and he had become the most expensive player in the tournament.
In just a few minutes, Flintoff was joined soon by Kevin Pietersen at the same figure with Vijay Mallya and his Bangalore Royal Challengers desperate for him and nabbed him with little resistance.
"I think he would be a superb addition to our team. We needed to strengthen our batting significantly and he fits that role amongst other things very, very well," said Mallya.
English players continued to get picked up with the Delhi Daredevils buying Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood. Kings XI Punjab pocketed another English player Ravi Bopara.
"I think we are all looking forward to the English participating this year. It is something new. i think they have a lot of fans here and overseas. They will supplement the team well," said IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi.
But it wasn't just the English who provided the excitement.
Tyron Henderson, a 34-year-old hard-hitting all-rounder from South Africa became the focus of a ferocious bidding war between the Rajasthan Royals and the Deccan Chargers.
The Royals finally prevailed but at more than six times his base price of $100,000.
And then came the Mashrafe Mortaza saga.
For well over half an hour, the bid went backward and forwards between the Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders. From $50,000, his price went up 12 times to $ 600,000 before he landed in the Knight Riders lap.
"I am sure that there is no doubt that his p[rice is in excess of where it started anyway. he started at a base price of 50,000 and we got for 600,000. But as I said we have got to look at him as more than just what he brings as a player. He brings a strong connection to Bangladesh and that is something that we as a franchisee are very keen to explore," said Kolkata Knight Riders coach John Buchanan.
So the fun is finally over and now the games begin.