Australian players attracted big prices in the Indian Premier League auction Thursday with paceman Pat Cummins becoming the costliest overseas buy after he went to Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.17 million.
Explosive allrounder Glenn Maxwell joined Kings XI Punjab for $1.51 million after recently returning to cricket from a short break due to mental health issues.
In the annual IPL auction, held before the start of each season, teams buy players who sign central contracts.
The players get around 75 percent of the auction price -- effectively their salary for the season -- while the rest goes to their national board.
Cummins initiated the biggest bidding war. Bangalore and Delhi Capitals both upped the ante before Kolkata swooped in for their former player, who has claimed 32 wickets in 25 IPL matches.
"Absolutely pumped to be back on board ... Can't wait to get over there," Cummins said in a video message posted on Kolkata's official Twitter site.
While it was a best for a foreign player, the price paid for Cummins is still short of the 160 million rupees ($2.3 million) that Bangalore paid for Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh in 2015.
Kolkata's new coach and former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum was elated to get "the best player of the auction", but insisted India's Dinesh Karthik will remain captain for the two-time champions.
- 'X-factor Maxwell' -
Other big foreign buys included South Africa bowler Chris Morris ($1.4m to Royal Challengers Bangalore), West Indies quick Sheldon Cottrell ($1.19m to Punjab) and Aussie quick Nathan Coulter-Nile ($1.12m to current champions Mumbai Indians).
West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer ($1.08m to Delhi), England's World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan ($734,265 to Knight Riders) and Australia limited-overs captain Aaron Finch ($619,303 to Bangalore) were other notable buys.
Maxwell improved from his base price set at 20 million rupees to re-unite with his former team.
"He has the capacity to really blast through on a good day," Punjab chief executive Satish Menon said after the big buy.
"He is the only guy we see as 'X factor' in the middle-order which we lack very badly. We couldn't have thought anyone better than him. He knows the ground, the Kings XI Punjab the way it has been."
Maxwell has scored 1,397 runs in the IPL at an average of 22.9 at a rapid strike rate of 161.13.
Punjab head coach Anil Kumble announced the appointment of India batsman KL Rahul as the team's new captain.
Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla was the highest Indian bid for $949,100 to Chennai Super Kings who also got England allrounder Sam Curran for $773,340.
While most of India's big name players are already attached to franchises, several newcomers bagged lucrative deals such as uncapped batsman Virat Singh who went up from his base price of $28,000 to fetch $267,000 from Sunrisers Hyderabad.
South Africa's veteran fast bowler Dale Steyn was third time lucky when Bangalore picked up the 36-year-old at his base price of 20 million rupees ($282,000). He went unsold twice.
Indian leg-spinner Pravin Tambe became the oldest player to be sold -- to KKR -- at 48 years.
A total of 338 players went under the hammer at the auction for the 13th edition of the cash-rich league.
The IPL, which was hit by a spot-fixing scandal in 2013, has emerged as the world's wealthiest league in the sport, with the tournament replicated by other nations such as Australia.
Australia's Pat Cummins has become the IPL's costliest overseas player after fetching $2.17 million at auction