Mumbai: Two-time Asian Games gold medal winner Rakesh Kumar emerged as the top money earner and was bought for Rs 12.80 lakh by Jaipur franchise Pink Panthers in the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League player auction held here today.
Raider Kumar, 32, employed with Northern Railways and was part of the Indian men's gold winning squad at the 2006 Qatar Asian Games and the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games as well as the 2007 World Cup winning team, fetched the top prize in the auction featuring 96 players from 13 countries.
In second place was raider Deepak Niwas of Sports Authority of India who was bought for Rs 12.60 lakh by Telugu Taitans (Vishakapatnam). Other big buys were: Surjeet Singh (Rs 12 lakh, Bengal Warriors of Kolkata), Ajay Thakur (Rs 12.20 lakh by Bengaluru Bulls of Bangalore), Surjeet Narwal (Rs 12.20 lakh by Delhi franchise and Navneet Gautam (Rs 11.20 lakh by Jaipur Pink Panthers).
There were four Pakistani players too at the auction and two of those - Atif Waheed and Wajid Ali - were purchased for Rs 4 lakh each by the Telugu Taitans. The other two - Waseem Sajjad (Rs 5.20 lakh) and Nasir Ali (Rs 4 lakh) - were bought by the Patna franchise and Jaipur Pink Panthers, respectively.
"There are just a few Pakistani players. We have initiated the process for their visas and expect support from the government. We want to showcase their skills," said Charu Sharma of league promoters Mashal Sports at the media conference, when queried on the issue of Pakistan players.
Among the foreign players, Iranians were the biggest draws with defenders Mostafa Noudehi (Rs 6.60 lakh, Puneri Paltan of Pune) and Farhad Gharibi (Rs 5.60 lakh, Bengal Warriors) being the pick of the lot.
Players from South Korea, which is hosting the Asian Games in September-October at Incheon where kabaddi is a medal event, Japan, Kenya, Taiwan, Britain, Oman, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Turkey were also bought at the auction. The league is scheduled from July 26 to August 31.