Deshpande gets the biggest bid

Hard-hitting middle-order batsman Pavan Deshpande emerged the most expensive purchase in the Karnataka Premier League-8 players' auctions while Rongsen Jonathan was the surprise show-stealer here on Saturday.

Left-handed Deshpande, who boasts of a strike rate of 145.45 in T20s and can be a handy off-spinner, saw Mysuru Warriors and Shivamogga Lions wage an intense bidding war. Even after the bid amount breached Rs 5 lakh, both teams refused to keep the paddle down as auctioneer Mark Rego had to keep upping the price.

When Mysuru Warriors raised the amount to Rs 7 lakh there was some silence in the room but after a brief consultation, the Lions raised their paddle. Warriors still tried to get the services of the batting all-rounder but Lions roped in Deshpande by bidding Rs 7.30 lakh.

"Every auction I have one or the other excitement," said a delighted Shivamogga Lions owner R Kumar. "Last year I purchased Abhimanyu Mithun for Rs 8.1 lakh and I didn't expect I may go for Pavan Deshpande after the bid amount went past 5.5 lakh. But he's a very interesting player. So I decided that I''ll go all out for him which I did."

While some expected Deshpande to fetch a high price considering his credentials, the 32-year-old Jonathan being procured for a whopping Rs 6 lakh was one of the surprises of the day.

The top-order batsman, with an average of just 19.80 in 19 T20s, attracted some intense bidding from Mysuru Warriors and Bijapur Bulls during the early stages before Bengaluru Blasters threw their hat into the ring at Rs 4.5 lakh. The Warriors backed off at that stage and Blasters and Bulls continued the bidding process with latter eventually winning the deal.

Warriors, who were intense in the morning session when players from Pool A were auctioned but were spectators for most part of the afternoon session when Pool B cricketers were up for grabs, had something to cheer about as they purchased all-rounder Anirudha Joshi for Rs 7.1 lakh -- the second most expensive buy of the day. They also shelled out Rs 5.20 lakh for batsman Amit Verma.

Hard-hitting Mohammed Taha was the other one who elicited big bids. Shivamogga and Bengaluru kept pursuing him and the former picked him for Rs 5.70 lakh. But to Shivamogga's dismay, Hubli Tigers exercised their Right To Match card.

Unsurprisingly, most elite players from the state went unsold in the early part of the auction as they are expected to feature in the Duleep Trophy scheduled to start on August 17. But talented pacer Prasidh Krishna turned out to be an exception as Mysuru and Ballari Tuskers sought his services desperately.

Belagavi Panthers entered the fray at Rs 1.2 lakh and from thereon, they and Tuskers kept raising the paddle. Finally, Tuskers picked him up for Rs 5.80 lakh. Tuskers also had paid Rs 1.90 lakh for off-spinner K Gowtham despite being aware of his chances of playing in Duleep Trophy.

Tuskers' head coach Irfan Sait said auctions are always a gamble and defended the risky purchases. "We have taken a chance with Gowtham and Prasidh Krishna. I know that they are not going to be there if they are picked for the Duleep Trophy. It is a calculated risk. We are hoping that if these players are not available, others will do the job for us."

Meanwhile, KSCA assistant secretary Santosh Menon said teams will be allowed replacements for players called up for Duleep Trophy. "As per the KPL rules, if a player is not available due to national duty or injuries, teams can take a replacement from the auction pool, subject to the approval of the governing council."  

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