New Delhi: Top stars Saina Nehwal and Lee Chong Wei were the costliest buys, fetching a whopping USD 100,000, while Indian shuttlers P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth were bought for USD 95,000 and USD 80,000 respectively at the rechristened Premier badminton League (PBL) players' auction here on Monday.
World No. 2 Saina and former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei were bought by Awadh Warriors of Lucknow and Hyderabad Hunters respectively for approx Rs 66,70,745 each in a closed door bidding yesterday even though their names were mentioned in the players list which went under the hammer in the open session today.
Two-time bronze medallist at the World Championship and winner of Macau Open, Sindhu found herself in the middle of an aggressive bidding today among Delhi Acers, Mumbai Rockets and Chennai Smashers and she was finally bought by Vijakant son Shanmugapandian owned Chennai Smashers for approx Rs 63,37,207.
World No. 9 Srikanth, who won the Swiss Open and India Super Series this season, attracted fierce bids from Bangalore Top Guns and Mumbai Rockets before being bought by the former for approx Rs 53,40,756.
Indonesian player Tommy Sugiarto, who had beaten Srikanth at the finals of Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold last week, was picked by Delhi Acers for USD 74,000 (approx Rs 49,36,351).
Among other Indians, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who is recovering from an injury, went to Hyderabad for a lowly USD 35,000 (approx Rs 23,347,60), same as Ajay Jayaram, who went to Delhi Acers.
Men's doubles player B Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri went for their base price of USD 25,000 (approx Rs 16,67,686) to Bengaluru Top Guns and Mumbai Rockets respectively.
2010 Commonwealth Games champion Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who found themselves in the middle of a controversy after their base price was reduced before the 2013 IBL Players' auction, went for USD 30,000 to their homes cities -- Hyderabad and Bengaluru respectively. However, the official twitter handle of PBL mentioned them fetching USD 60,000 each.
Promising Indian shuttler HS Prannoy fetched USD 47,000 (approx Rs 31,35,250) from Mumbai franchise, owned by Devyani Leisures Pvt. Ltd, while Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboosuk, who had a base price of USD 15,000, fetched USD 41000 from Awadhe Warriors.
Russia's Vladimir Ivanov was bought by Mumbai Rockets for USD 42,000 (approx Rs 28,01,712), while England's Rajiv Ouseph was taken by Delhi Acers for USD 36,000 (approx Rs 24,01,468) during the auction which started after a two hour delay.
Six teams -- Hyderabad Hunters, Mumbai Rockets, Delhi Acers, Bengaluru Top Guns, Awadh Warriors, Chennai Smashers - each had a total purse of USD 270,000 (Approx Rs 1,80,11,011).
Saina and Lee Chong Wei were not part of the auction today as they were sold in a closed-door auction in which five franchises bid USD 100,000 - the maximum permissible amount -- for the Indian superstar. The decision was reached through a lottery as part of the new PBL rules.
Mumbai and Hyderabad wanted to buy Lee Chong Wei and both bid the maximum again but after a draw of lots, the Malaysian went to Hyderabad, owned by Agile Security Force Pvt. Ltd.
There was a little chaos and confusion in the auction process, but in the end the franchises seemed satisfied with their buys.
Speaking on the sidelines of the auction, Upinder Zutshi, CEO & MD, ICS, Delhi Acers said: "We are very satisfied with players that we have bought. We tried to take PV Sindhu but it was Chennai Smashers who were lucky. The rules for the auction are transparent and clear and we too were keen to buy Saina Nehwal but it was Awadhe Warriors who finally took her".
Kalai, CEO, Chennai Smashers said: "We were adamant to pick PV Sindhu and we successfully did so. We are happy that we have her in our team. We have managed to get good players in our team".
Speaking on Saina Nehwal in Awadhe Warriors, Abhijit Sarkar, Team Owner said: "We are very happy to have Saina Nehwal in our team. The team that we have in place looks complete and we are confident and excited about the League".
Commenting on the proceedings, Vagish Pathak, Mumbai Rockets Owner said: "We are satisfied with the players that we have in the team. We were aiming ot get Vladimir Ivanov, HS Prannoy and Manu Attri in our team and I am happy that we got him".
Dr. VRK Rao, Team Owner for Hyderabad Hunters said: ?Lee Chong Wei was the biggest catch for us and having P Kashyap, Jwala Gutta and Markis Kido adds more strength to the team".
Prasad Mangipudi, MD, Bangalore Top Guns said, "We are very happy with the acquisition of a star player like Srikanth. The team composition is on the lines we had planned for and we believe the squad we have is capable of winning PBL".
BAI had organised Indian Badminton League in 2013 but thereafter for two years -- 2014 and 2015 -- the League did not take place.
The lucrative tournament, now known as PBL, will kick-start on January 2 in Mumbai with an extravagant opening ceremony and the grand finale will take place here on January 17.