World number one Lee Chong Wei may have attracted the highest bid but the Indian players emerged as the biggest gainers as they earned a whopping USD 8,61,000 among themselves in the much-awaited Players' auction of the Indian Badminton League (IBL).
The total amount spent on the Indian players by the six franchisees was USD 96,500 more than what the international stars commanded despite the likes of three-time All England champion Tine Baun, men's doubles world number one player Carston Morgensen of Denmark and Asian Games gold medalists Kien Keat Koo and Boon Hoeng Tan making the cut.
Expressing delight over the fact that the Indian players would get more money, Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta said: "The whole idea behind conceptualizing the IBL was to provide a boost to Indian badminton and that can happen only if the players get to play some of the best in the world on a regular basis and also earn money so as to further their careers.
"I am delighted that the franchise owners have also followed on the same principle and have shown keen interest in signing Indian players," said Das Gupta, who is also the chairman of the IBL Governing Council.
Leading the charge of the Indian brigade was obviously London Olympics bronze medalist Saina Nehwal, who was bought by Hyderabad HotShots for USD 120,000 - a price only bettered by Chong Wei in the auction. Apart from Saina, Asian junior champion P V Sindhu (USD 80,000) and London Olympics quarter finalist P Kashyap (USD 75,000) commanded a premium price.
However, some of the upcoming Indian shuttlers were also not far behind. Sai Praneeth, who recently won the VV Natu Memorial All India senior ranking tournament, was bought for USD 40,000, which was USD 25,000 above his base price, while RMV Guru Sai Dutt got a raise of USD 15,000 as he went to Lucknow Warriors for the same price.
Among the women's doubles players, national champion Pradnya Gadre fetched a bid which was more than four times of her base price of USD 10,000, while Maldives Open champion K Maneesha commanded a price of USD 26,000 after starting at a base price of USD 4,000.