Former India batsmen Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman at the IPL Player Auction in Bangalore yesterday. Sehwag is King's XI Punjab team mentor, while Gambhir is Kolkata Knight Riders skipper and Laxman is Sunrisers Hyderabad's assistant coach. Pic/PTI

Bangalore: It was clearly a good day to be English, more so if you were an all-rounder.

If England's ODI and T20 skipper Eoin Morgan started it all by becoming the first player to be sold at yesterday's IPL auction, Kings XI Punjab picking him up for his base price of Rs 2 crore, the real action centred around Ben Stokes, the day's highest earner with a whopping Rs 14.5 crore, the highest ever bid for a foreign player in IPL auction history.

His teammates, fellow all-rounder Chris Woakes and new ball operator Tymal Mills, the day's second highest buy at Rs 12 crore, weren't far behind, in a way marking the return of the English to Indian shores. Opening bat Jason Roy and RCB discard Chris Jordan completed the day for them, both finding takers in Round 2.

In stark contrast was the fortunes of many India players including Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan, both finding no takers on a day when 39 cricketers from India, some known, many unknown, made the grade, some at heavy cost to the franchises and some at bargain prices. Irfan, whose family business in recent years has been playing the IPL, brother Yusuf still part of the Kolkata Knight Riders team, despite his all-round abilities, albeit waning, was ignored twice as was Ishant. Most
surprisingly Varun Aaron, who was let go off by RCB after some poor shows, was in great demand, finally going to Kings XI for Rs 2.8 crore.

In a pleasing development for world cricket two Afghans, Rashid Khan and Mohd Nabi made the cut even as the Bangladeshis in the fray were ignored, bringing the foreigner count to 27. Sunrisers Hyderabad made a huge bid for leggie Rashid, paying out R4 crore for the bowler (base price Rs 50 lakh) while all-rounder Nabi, received a more modest Rs 30 lakh, his base price. UAE's Chirag Suri was another associate member player who got lucky.

Kolkata Knight Riders, the only team with their captain on the table, Gautam Gambhir marking his presence, got into the action late but as is their wont made some smart buys. Having lost one of their main players Andre Russell (banned for a year for not keeping WADA informed about his whereabouts), they were on the look-out for a similar all-rounder and so went all out for Woakes, finally getting him for Rs 4.2 crore. They added Trent Boult for another Rs 5 crore.

The day however, belonged to Stokes first and Mills later. Mumbai Indians and RCB started it off, Delhi Daredevils joined in, SRH made a late entry at Rs 11 crore but it was RPS, who came in at Rs 13.5 crore, who got him at Rs 14.5 crore.

Mills' story was similar. Again it was MI who started the bid, this time with Kings XI before RCB and KKR got into it. RCB, desperate for a good quick bowler to replace Mitchell Starc, who chose rest over money, didn't give up. They started the day with Rs 17.825 crore in their kitty, had earlier bagged Pawan Negi for Rs 1 crore, paid out Rs 12 crore for Mills, more than double the amount they had paid Starc thus far.