By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Chris Morris of South Africa and Australia’s Glenn Maxwell emerged as millionaires from the early round of the players auction for this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), which welcomed back China’s Vivo as its title sponsor on Thursday.
Morris became the IPL’s most expensive overseas player after returning to the Rajasthan Royals for 162.5 million Indian rupees ($2.2 million) following a fierce bidding war involving the Punjab Kings.
“He’s one of those players with experience who can deal with a price tag like that,” Rajasthan chief operating officer Jake Lush McCrum told a video conference.
“We’ve rebalanced the side this year. He fills an important role for us,” he said of the 33-year-old bowling all-rounder.
“A quality bowler for all phases of the game, and he can win a game with a bat as well.”
Maxwell also triggered a bidding war in which Royal Challengers Bangalore outbid Chennai to snap up the explosive all-rounder for 142.5 million rupees.
He joins Bangalore’s star-studded lineup that includes India captain Virat Kohli and South African stalwart AB de Villiers.
England all-rounder Moeen Ali was sold to Chennai Super Kings for 70 million rupees, while compatriot and top-ranked T20 batsman Dawid Malan joined Punjab for 15 million.
Australia’s Steve Smith, who led Rajasthan last year but was subsequently released by the franchise, went to Delhi Capitals, coached by compatriot Ricky Ponting, for 22 million rupees.
Earlier, IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed Chinese smartphone maker Vivo’s return as title sponsor of the world’s richest Twenty20 league.
Vivo had secured the IPL sponsorship rights for 2018-2022 for nearly 22 billion rupees but pulled out of last year’s tournament amid a backlash against Chinese firms in India. ($1 = 72.6 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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