Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of England's Joe Denly. Picture: REUTERS / PAUL CHILDS
Australia's Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of England's Joe Denly. Picture: REUTERS / PAUL CHILDS

Kolkata — Australia paceman Pat Cummins became the costliest overseas buy in Indian Premier League history on Thursday after Kolkata Knight Riders paid $2.17m for him in the championship's auctions.

The winning bid in the cash-rich Twenty20 league, beat the previous record $2.16m paid for England’s Ben Stokes in 2007 by the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiants.

Aussies dominated the bidding war, with all-rounder Glenn Maxwell going to Kings XI Punjab for $1.51m after recently returning to cricket from a short break due to mental health issues.

The IPL auction is an annual event held before the start of each season where teams buy players who sign central contracts.

The players get about 75% of the auction price — effectively their salary for the season — while the rest goes to their national board.

Other big foreign buys included SA bowler Chris Morris ($1.4m to Royal Challengers Bangalore), England's World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan ($734,265 to Knight Riders) and Australia limited-overs captain Aaron Finch ($619,303 to Bangalore).

But it was Cummins who initiated the biggest bidding war, with Bangalore and Delhi Capitals upping the ante before Kolkata swooped in to catch their former player, who has claimed 32 wickets in 25 IPL matches.

“Absolutely pumped to be back on board ... can’t wait to get over there,” Cummins said in a video message posted on Kolkata’s official Twitter site.

While best for a foreign player, the price paid for Cummins is still short of the $2.3m that Bangalore paid for Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh in 2015.

Explosive hitter Maxwell made his presence felt as he improved from his base price set at $282,000 to reunite with his former team.

“He has the capacity to really blast through on a good day,” Punjab CEO Satish Menon said after the big buy. “He is the only guy we see as ‘X factor’ in the middle-order. We couldn’t have bought anyone better than him.”

Maxwell has scored 1,397 runs in the IPL at an average of 22.9 at a rapid strike rate of 161.13.

A total of 338 players are under the hammer at the auction for the 13th edition of the cash-rich league.