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Maharaja Trophy auction: Abhinav the most expensive buy; Agarwal, Padikkal also fetch big money

Among fast bowlers, Prasidh Krishna and Vijaykumar Vyshak attract top bids

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Composite: Devdutt Padikkal, Abhinav Manohar, Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey

Devdutt Padikkal, Abhinav Manohar, Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey fetched pricey bids in the auction  •  Maharaja T20

Batters were the flavour of the day at the Maharaja Trophy auction in Bengaluru on Saturday, with Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal, Manish Pandey all attracting big bids. However, the biggest bid was reserved for middle-order batter Abhinav Manohar, who was signed for INR 15 lakh by Shivamogga Lions, one of the two new franchises along with Mangalore Dragons in the six-team tournament that is to run from August 13 to 29.
Agarwal was signed for INR 14 lakh by Bengaluru Blasters, while Padikkal (INR 13.2 lakh) and Pandey (INR 10.6 lakh) attracted the next highest bids, by defending champions Gulbarga Mystics and Hubli Tigers, respectively.
In all, over 700 cricketers from across the state were slotted and auctioned across four groups. Category A included India and IPL players, while Category B comprised those who have played in the BCCI tournaments at the senior level. State players from across the BCCI's age-group tournaments formed Category C. All other players from the state were bracketed in Category D.
Among the fast bowlers, Vijaykumar Vyshak, who earned a maiden IPL deal with Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier this year, was signed for INR 8.8 lakh by Mystics, while Prasidh Krishna, who is set to return to competitive cricket after more than a year, went for INR 7.4 lakh to Mysuru Warriors.
Spin-bowling allrounders Shreyas Gopal and K Gowtham went to Lions and Dragons for INR 7.4 lakh and INR 6.6 lakh, respectively. Meanwhile, Karun Nair, currently playing minor county cricket in England, returned to Warriors for INR 6.8 lakh amid the reports of him looking to pursue opportunities outside the state in domestic cricket. Nair hasn't played any form of cricket for Karnataka for over a year.
Among younger players, Nikin Jose, currently playing in the emerging team's Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, was snapped up for INR 7 lakh by Dragons. Jose had a prolific debut season across formats, and is now considered an all-format regular.
This year, the tournament returns to a franchise model following a season in which the KSCA had complete control of all cricketing aspects - right from player drafts to payments to the appointments of coaches and staff. At the time, apart from "restoring credibility" after the tournament had been struck by a series of spot-fixing controversies, the KSCA said the shift had been made keeping in mind the country's tax laws.
At that time, the KSCA's cricket committee, headed by then president and former India allrounder Roger Binny, had formed a core group of six selectors - picked from across the six zones of the state - to take part in the draft process, and payments were uniform as per the grades to which players belonged.
Each team will play the other five twice. The top four will then compete in Qualifiers and Eliminator, just like the IPL playoffs system. All matches will be played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

Maharaja Trophy squads

Gulbarga Mystics: Devdutt Padikkal, KP Appana, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Srinivas Sharath, LR Chethan, Aqib Jawad, R Smaran, KV Aneesh, Macneil Noronha, Sharan Goud, Abhilash Shetty, Hardik Raj, Shimon Luiz, Avinash D, Yashovardhan Parantap, Aadarsh Prajwal, Abul Hasan Khalid, Shaun Joseph
Hubli Tigers: KC Cariappa, Pravin Dubey, Manish Pandey, Luvnith Sisodia, Shrijith KL, Mohammed Taha, Vidhwath Kaverappa, MB Darshan, Shivam MB, Naga Bharath, Santokh Singh, Mohith BA, Manvanth Kumar L, Mitrakant Singh Yadav, Malliksab G, Nathan D'mello, Rakshekar Harikant, Clement Raju
Shivamogga Lions: Abhinav Manohar, Shreyas Gopal, Nihal Ullal, Koushik V, Sharath HS, Kranthi Kumar, Rohan Kadam, Shreyas Puranik, Pranav Bhatia, Vinay Sagar, Aditya Somanna, Adhoksh Hegde, Pavan Shridi, Rohan Naveen, Shivaraj, Rohit Kumar K, Nischith Rao, Deepak Devadiga
Mysuru Warriors: Karun Nair, Suchith J, Prasidh Krishna, Shoaib Manager, Samarth R, Karthik CA, Manoj Bhandage, Venkatesh M, Tushar Singh, Kushal Wadhwani, Shashi Kumar K, Rakshith S, Shreesha S Achar, Monish Reddy, Aditya Mani, Gautam Mishra, Rahul Singh Rawat, Bharath Dhuri
Bengaluru Blasters: Mithun A, Mayank Agarwal, Pradeep T, Mohammed Sarfaraz Ashraf, Pavan Deshpande, Shubhang Hegde, Nishchal D, Vidyadhar Patil, Jeshwanth Acharya, Jasper EJ, Kumar LR, Mohsin Khan, Aashish Mahesh, Rishi Bopanna, Suraj Ahuja, Aaron Christie, Abhishek Ahlawat, Aman Khan
Mangalore Dragons: Ronit More, Krishnappa Gowtham, Krishnamurthy Siddharth, Nikin Jose, BR Sharath, Prateek Jain, Aniruddha Joshi, Rohan Patil, Gaurav Dhiman, BU Shivakumar, Thippa Reddy, Aaditya Nair, Aditya Goyal, Doddamani Anand, Kruthik Krishna, Gneshwar Naveen, Dheeraj Gowda, Aneeshwar Gautam

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo