Megastar Shah Rukh Khan bids record $3 mln for Aussie cricketer Starc in IPL auctions

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan scooped up Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc for a record $3 million (247 million rupees) in the Indian Premier League auctions, showing how one of the world’s hottest sports properties continues to attract investment.

Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders added the left-arm pacer to its professional cricket league team after a long-drawn bidding war in Dubai on Tuesday. This beat the record set earlier in the auction by Sunrisers Hyderabad which offered 205 million rupees for Australian captain, Pat Cummins.

Cummins led his team to a World Cup win last month beating India, the tournament favorites, on their home turf.

Ten IPL league teams, including those owned by Asia’s richest person, Mukesh Ambani and overseen by his wife Nita, are bidding for 333 cricket players in the ongoing auction. The IPL has emerged as a $6.2 billion juggernaut in the cricket-crazy nation of more than a billion people.

Since its inception in 2008, IPL has revolutionized the once-staid game of cricket that was traditionally played over five days by popularizing a shorter three-hour format. Described as the Super Bowl of cricket, it has brought in Bollywood glamor and billions of dollars to become one of the world’s fastest-growing sporting events.

Ambani’s conglomerate secured IPL’s five-year digital rights for almost $3 billion last year, while Walt Disney Co. paid roughly the same for TV rights.

The religion-like fervor that cricket generates in India has become a giant opportunity for advertisers and those investing in the business of sports, catapulting the Board of Control for Cricket in India to the league of richest sporting bodies globally.

Fans have made IPL one of the most powerful sports events in the world, Arun Singh Dhumal, IPL chairperson told bidders at the auction which was broadcast on Ambani’s JioCinema. “The day is not far when we’ll together make it the number one league.”

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