Dhoni emerges costliest player at US 1.5 mn, Symonds US 1.35 mn

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Mumbai, Feb 20 (UNI) The Indian charismatic one-day skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni emerged the costliest player at 1.5 million dollars, at the players auction for the multi-billion dollar Indian Premier League to be held from April 18.

Top notch industrlialists, and celebrated cine stars dug deep into their pockets to bag the best players as 26-year-old Dhoni set the tempo for the first-ever auction of world's top cricketers when he was acquired by the Chennai franchisee for a three-year period.

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who recently made headlines for being at the centre of a racial row involving Harbhajan Singh, proved that the controversy had not dented his brand value as he attracted the second highest price of US 1.35 million dollars (approx Rs 5.4 crore) with the Hyderabad team securing his services.

Eight franchise owners, including corporate tycoons like Mukesh Ambani and liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Bollywood superstars Shahrukh Khan and Priety Zinta, bid for 77 cricketers in a pioneering process which has the potential to change the face of the game. Sri Lankan opener Sanath Jayasuriya, despite being aged 38, was sold out to Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai team for a whopping 975,000 dollars, while Australian speedster Brett Lee (900,000 dollars), South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis (900,000 dollars), Harbhajan Singh (850,000 dollars), West Indian opener Chris Gayle (800,000 crore) and retiring Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist (700,000 dollars) were some of the other big draws.

(Eds pick up suitably from related series).

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