BANGALORE: The eight teams in the cash-rich Indian Premier League spent almost $70 million at an auction for players ahead of the T20 tournament, which starts in April.
The results showed a marked shift away from purchasing big-name foreign stars, in favour of up-and-coming players from India and elsewhere.
While there were no bidders for England's Test and one-day captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, Kings XI Punjab paid $628,000 for Mujeeb Zadran, a 16-year-old spinner from Afghanistan.
Mujeeb, the youngest player to be signed by an IPL team, was spotted by Indian scouts at the under-19 Asian Cup in Kuala Lumpur last November.
Nepal will also get its first IPL player after 17-year-old leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane landed a $31,446 deal with Delhi Daredevils.
Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings are returning from two-year bans for illegal gambling. The Royals, who won the first IPL in 2008 under Shane Warne, turned out to be big spenders, shelling out $10.3 million for 23 players including the top two buys, Ben Stokes ($1.96m) and Jaydev Unadkat ($1.8m).
They will be relying on the big names to lift their less exalted team-mates to success.
But the conservative Super Kings, twice IPL champions, spent just $6.4 million in two days and did not make any of the top 10 purchases. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was retained as captain ahead of the auction.
Their top buy, Kedar Jadav, who cost $1.2 million, could be a smart buy for his explosive batting and surprising off-spin. With reputations to restore, both teams will be in the spotlight on their return from scandal.
Batsmen Manish Pandey and Lokesh Rahul came third and fourth in the rankings, both costing about $1.7 million.
Players with no experience in the national team also featured prominently: the Royals spent almost $1 million on uncapped off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham, and Krunal Pandya became the costliest uncapped buy when he went to Mumbai Indians for $1.38 million.