Maxwell hits a maximum

Minutes after Australia had taken a 2-0 series lead against the West Indies at Perth, Glenn Maxwell found the time to tweet, "Seriously strange day that!" The 24-year-old from Victoria might well have said 'bizarre' or 'outlandish' and he wouldn't have been too far off the mark. As he walked back to the pavilion after a first-ball zero, little would he have known that six significant zeroes were about to be added to his bank balance.

The 24-year-old all-rounder might have been a tad indecisive while facing the Darren Sammy delivery that got the better of him at the WACA. Almost concurrently, thousands of miles away in Chennai, Mumbai Indians and Hyderabad Sunrisers were steadfast in their pursuit to procure Maxwell's services.

So intent were Nita Ambani & Co that they didn't mind splurging $1,000,000 to seal the deal. Maxwell, who started the day on the wrong foot, became the only million-dollar pick at the 2013 IPL auction.

Among others whom he left behind were Australian Test and ODI captain Michael Clarke (who went for $400,000 to Pune Warriors), the recently retired Aussie legend Ricky Ponting (who almost went unsold before being picked up for his base price of $400,000 by Mumbai).

Indeed, it was a strange day in Chennai. While the nine franchises showed lukewarm interest in many big names of world cricket, they were involved in a surprising bidding war post-lunch, scampering for lesser-known players such as Kane Richardson ($700,000/base price $100,000), Chris Moris ($625,000/base price $20,000) and Sachithra Senanayake ($625,000/base price $50,000).

While there were no two-million-dollar-plus bids like the one Ravindra Jadeja attracted last year, the Indians in the fray also elicited considerable interest. Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar went for $675,000 to Pune while seamers Jaydev Unadkat ($525,000), MS Gony ($500,000 to Kings XI Punjab) and RP Singh ($400,000) were also much sought-after.

Daniel Christian, who got $900,000 from Deccan Chargers last year, went unsold in the first round, before being picked up by Bangalore for his base price ($100,000) as an afterthought.

By then, the IPL had its Daniel Christian for 2013: Maxwell.

A power-hitter

Over the last couple of years, Maxwell has generated great excitement Down Under with his precocious hitting ability, best showcased during his domestic record-breaking half-century two years ago against Tasmania, and his useful off-spin.And he provided a timely reminder of his ability two days before the auction, with a blistering cameo as an opener in the first ODI against Sammy & Co.

While he went berserk against the pace of Kemar Roach and Jason Holder, he also crucially handled the wiles of Sunil Narine with aggression, using the crease intelligently and employing the reverse-sweep fearlessly. The big-buck signing also capped off a watershed week for Maxwell, who was part of Delhi Daredevils last season, after he was picked in the Australian Test squad for India.

If anything Maxwell has received stick in the past for tooting his own horn, with his teammates giving him the sobriquet of 'The Big Show.'

Though his aggressive batting has always remained Maxwell's strongest attribute, his off-spinners too have come a long way in recent times. Australia coach Mickey Arthur has already indicated that the confident youngster is being considered a bowling all-rounder. And he also revealed that Maxwell's bowling had improved by leaps and bounds. A few sessions with fellow Melburnian, Shane Warne, has been a significant fillip.

Dean Jones, his former coach, recently compared Maxwell with another Victorian who possessed similarly audacious skills and an equally mercurial personality, Ian 'the freak' Harvey. And Maxwell's no less a maverick off the field, prone to experimenting with both his looks and his deliveries.

Flashes of brilliance

It's been just over six months since his debut for Australia, and he only has a handful of international matches up his sleeve. But Maxwell's already shown glimpses of being a clinical finisher.

His blistering performances for Hampshire during the T20 Cup in England last year — 179 runs at strike-rate of 175.49 — brought him to national reckoning. He was equally destructive in the Big Bash, recording a strike-rate of 152.63.

"For an emerging player it is big. He is an exciting player and a good catch for us. I knew him before he made his debut for Australia," said Anil Kumble, Mumbai Indians' mentor.

This will not be the first time that Mumbai have signed a relative unknown for big bucks. Last year they invested heavily in Richard Levi, and in the past have roped in the likes of Kieron Pollard too for big money.

For Maxwell though, the day that started with a golden duck took a turn for the better on the field too. The youngster went on to pick up four wickets in his team's comprehensive victory.

Who went where, for How much

All-rounders, pace bowlers and the odd mystery spinner — these were the areas that most of the franchises looked to strengthen during the IPL 2013 auction on Sunday. And thus, Glenn Maxwell became a millionaire and little-known players like Senanayake and Morris attracted similarly large sums, while Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke only fetched their base prices.

Among the teams, Pune and Mumbai splashed out over $2 million, while the likes of Rajasthan and Kolkata kept additions to a minimum.

Shamik Chakrabarty makes sense of who went where and why.

Kolkata Knight Riders

spent: $675,000

Bought: Sachithra Senanayake ($625k), Ryan McLaren ($50k).

Hottest pick: Sachithra Senanayake bowled economically in BBL, has deceptive doosra

Team strategy: KKR captain Gautam Gambhir said: "We wanted another mystery off-spinner who could bowl in tandem with Sunil Narine and we are very happy to have Senanayake."

Mumbai Indians

spent: $2 million

Bought: Ricky Ponting ($400k), Phil Hughes ($100k), Glenn Maxwell ($1m), Nathan Coulter-Nile ($450k).

Hottest pick: Glenn Maxwell has fastest fifty in aus domestic history

Team strategy: MI plan to build a team around Tendulkar and Ponting, said team owner Nita Ambani. "We wanted Maxwell and decided to go the distance," she added.

Sahara Pune Warriors

spent: $2.5 million

Bought: Michael Clarke ($400k), Abhishek Nayar (675k), Ajantha Mendis (725k), Kane Richardson (700k)

Hottest pick: Ajantha Mendis unsold last year, second-most expensive this time

Team strategy: Re-signed Clarke, who is expected to lead side. "Good spinners are always vital in Indian conditions. That is why why we went for Mendis," a team official said.

Hyderabad sunrisers

spent:$1.32 million.

Bought: T Perera ($675k), D Sammy ($425k), S Tyagi ($100k), N McCullum ($100k), Q de Kock ($20k), C McKay ($100k)

Hottest pick: Thisara Perera starred in Lanka's 2-0 win over Aus in T20 series

Team strategy: New franchise failed to sign Maxwell, but landed another off-spinning all-rounder. "We are happy to get (Nathan) McCullum," said mentor Kris Srikkanth.

Delhi daredevils

spent: $760,000

Bought: Johan Botha ($450k), Jesse Ryder ($260k), Jeevan Mendis ($50k)

Hottest pick: Johan Botha has ipl pedigree, offers balance, flexibility

Team strategy: Delhi were looking for a couple of power hitters, and grabbed Ryder and Jeevan Mendis on the cheap. Botha bolsters their spin attack, a weakness last season.

Kings xi punjab

spent: $800,000

Bought: Luke Pomersbach ($300k), Manpreet Gony ($500k).

Hottest pick: Manpreet Gony expensive buy, will hope to repeat season 1 exploits

Team strategy: Will look to build batting around Australians Shaun Marsh and Pomersbach, preferred local boy Gony over RP Singh for knowledge of home conditions

Rajasthan royals

spent: $630,000

Bought: James Faulkner ($400k), Fidel Edwards ($210k), Kushal Perera ($20k)

Hottest pick: James Faulkner multi-dimensional, adds variety with left-arm pace

Team strategy: Spent judiciously, bolstered pace attack with Edwards, Faulkner. "Death bowling was a bit of a concern and we tried filling that gap," said co-owner Shilpa Shetty.

Royal challengers

spent: $1.8 million.

Bought: RP Singh ($400k), M Henriques ($300k), J Unadkat ($525k), P Singh ($150k), R Rampaul ($290k), D Christian ($100k)

Hottest pick: Ravi Rampaul skiddy fast bowler has good CLT20 record

Team strategy: Have packed squad with seamers, with RP Singh, Pankaj Singh and Jaydev Unadkat offering a variety of Indian options. Henriques and Christian add depth to line-up.

Chennai superkings

spent: $1.28 million.

Bought: Dirk Nannes ($600k), Chris Morris ($625k), Ben Laughlin ($20k), Akila Dananjaya ($20k), Jason Holder ($20k)

Hottest pick: Chris Morris SA all-rounder impressed on t20i debut against NZ

Team strategy: Not wanting to disturb a settled, power-packed batting lineup, CSK have added teeth to the bowling, with Nannes, Morris and mystery man Dananjaya.

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