Dhaka: About 150 foreigners went under the hammer for the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) auction on Thursday despite a pay row which saw many cricketers not paid their full dues for the first season.
Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan hit the jackpot as he went for $365,000, but the amount was nearly half of what Pakistan's Shahid Afridi was sold for when the country launched the Twenty20 tournament in February.
The BPL is the Bangladeshi answer to the Indian Premier League (IPL), which revolutionised cricket when it burst on to the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international stars, Twenty20 matches and celebrity glamour.
Pakistani opener Imran Nazir was sold for the second-highest $280,000 and Afridi for $275,000, while more than a dozen foreigners went for over $100,000, according to Channel 9 which telecast the auction live.
Bangladeshi batsman Nasir Hossain was auctioned off for $208,000 but he cast doubt whether he would be paid the amount. He was sold last season for $200,000, the highest among local players, but he was still not paid his dues.
"If I am sold at two taka (local currency), please give me that two taka, not one taka," Hossain told Bengali daily Prothom Alo, adding he only got a third of his last year's fee.
The Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA) in July threatened to sue the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) over unpaid wages by the BPL, calling the situation "a joke".
BPL secretary I.H. Mallick said the authorities would "at any cost" make the second edition successful, adding about 150 foreign players were taking part in the auction.
"We are expecting more big names. They will be sold in a close bid," he said, without mentioning the players.
BCB has set a $1.5 million spending cap for each of the seven teams and forced them to write cheques on Thursday for the players who were sold at a price higher than their tagged rate.
"We're now second only to IPL, but we want to be as good as IPL," Mallick said. The inaugural edition was also marred by spot-fixing allegations, leading to life ban on a former Bangladeshi cricketer and arrest of a Pakistani national.
The second edition starts next month.