New Delhi: Indian national team captain Sardar Singh turned out to be damp squib as he bagged just USD 58,000, even as Germany's Moritz Fuerste drew the highest ever bid in the history of Hockey India League auctions after he was bought by Kalinga Lancers for a whopping USD 1,05,000 here On Thursday.
The other Germans to have drawn the attention of the teams is striker Florian Fuchs, who was picked up by Dabang Mumbai for USD 96,000 against his base price of USD 20,000 and midfielder Tobias Hauke, who was purchased by Uttar Pradesh Wizards for USD 96,000 against his base price of USD 25,000.
Indian drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and striker Dharanvir Singh were more in demand than Sardar as they bagged USD 68,000 and USD 60,000, respectively from Delhi Waveriders and Kalinga Lancers against their base prices of USD 20,000 each.
After a rather slow start to the auctions that saw only two players from lot one being picked in Vikramjeet Singh (USD 4,500 Ranchi Rays) and Australian Kieron Govers (USD 36,000 Dabang Mumbai), Sardar's name -- the first on lot two -- created a buzz among the franchises with Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Punjab Warriors going head to head for the 29-year-old star midfielder.
With a base price of USD 20,000, Sardar was eventually bought by the Warriors for only USD 58,000, which turned out to be much less than the amount he garnered in the inaugural edition. He was sold for USD 78,000 to Delhi Waveriders in 2012 before the franchise released him this year.
The highlight of the second lot was the 23-year-old FIH Young Player of the Year Fuchs, regarded as one of the sport's most lethal strikers in world hockey. Fuchs was on the radar of every franchise and he quickly went past Sardar's price with UP Wizards, Mumbai and the Lancers bidding vigorously for the young German.
In the end, Mumbai picked him up for a hefty price of USD 96,000.
But it was Fuchs' Germany team-mate Fuerste, an Olympic gold medallist, who bagged the highest price as he was purchased for USD 1,05,00 against his base price of USD 30,000. Initially it was three-way fight among the Delhi Waveriders, UP Wizards and Dabang Mumbai vying for his services, but in the end the Lancers pulled off a late heist with their record bid.
During the 2012 auctions, Fuerste was acquired by Ranchi Rhinos for USD 75,000 and went on to captain the team. Another German player Hauke was also high in demand as the Wizards, the Waveriders and Mumbai bid vigorously for him. Ultimately the Wizards availed his services by shelling out USD 96,000 against his base price of USD 25,000.
Australian midfielder Matthew Swann also demanded a good price as he was sold to Dabang Mumbai for USD 75,000 against his base price of USD 20,000.
It was the turn of goalkeepers in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth lots of the auction and Dutchman Nicolas Jacobi and Devon Manchester of New Zealand picked up the highest price of USD 27,000 each against their base prices of USD 20,000 and USD 15,000, respectively.
While Jacobi was bought by Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Manchester went to the Waveriders. The Waveriders also picked up Harjot Singh as the second goalkeeper for his base price of USD 20,000.
In the 10th and last lot before the lunch break, young Indian striker Mandeep Singh demanded USD 70,000 from the Waveriders in a two-race with Ranchi Rays. His base price was USD 20,000.
When Kalinga Lancers mentor Dillep Tirkey was asked about their decision to shell out such a record price for Fuerste, he said it was a planned move.
"In the last two HIL, our performances were not good so came to the auction with a plan this year. We want to make our team stronger. We want to make our team around Fuerste. He is a proven customer for Germany and we thought about it earlier that we will go for him."
On why they didn't bid for Sardar, Tirkey said: "Sardar is the best player of the Indian team but we couldn't fit him in our team."
Dabang Mumbai mentor Viren Rasquinha said it was logical that most of the teams went for German and Australian players because they are world-class.