Morris’ big pay day came after another all-rounder and perennial under-performer, Australian Glenn Maxwell, once again managed to attract a winning ₹14.25 crore bid from Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Punjab Kings, who went into the auction with the maximum purse among eight teams, paid ₹14 crore to rope in Australian pacer Jhye Richardson hoping he will plug the gap in their leaking bowling department.
The 24-year-old, who has played two Tests, 13 ODIs and nine T20Is for Australia, was the leading wicket-taker in the recent Big Bash League.
Morris, who came with a base price of ₹75 lakh, generated bids from four teams before it became a battle between Royals and Punjab Kings.
Royals eventually sealed it with a record bid which made Morris the costliest buy at the auction ever, surpassing Yuvraj Singh, who was bought by Delhi Capitals for ₹16 crore in 2015.
The costliest player in the IPL remains Virat Kohli, retained for ₹17 crore by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In 70 IPL games, Morris has scored 551 runs at 23.95 and taken 80 wickets at 23.98.
Talking about why Royals went all out on Morris, team COO Jake Luch McCrum said: “We actually spoke to Chris before the auction itself, and did a full medical review of him. He’s in a bubble in South Africa now, about to play the domestic competition.
“Chris is an ex -Royal, and he’s one of those players with experience and who can deal with a price tag like that. We’ve re-balanced the side this year, he will fill in an important role for us.
“He is a quality bowler through all phases of the game, and also he can win us the game with the bat as well.”
Earlier, KKR made the opening bid for Maxwell but it eventually became a two-way war between Chennai Super Kings and RCB before the Virat Kohli-led team won him with a bid which came to USD 1.96 million.
“We wanted to get an X-factor player and we are delighted to get Maxwell,” RCB Director of Cricket Mike Hesson said.
Punjab Kings, who had paid ₹10.75 crore for Maxwell in the previous auction, had released the 32-year-old following the 2020 edition in which he made 108 runs in 13 games at 15.42.
In 82 IPL games, Maxwell has made 1505 runs at a modest average of 22.13.
England all-rounder Moeen Ali also went for a high price of ₹7 crore to Chennai Super Kings. Both Maxwell and Moeen had base prices of ₹2 crore.
“Absolutely buzzing to play for CSK. They have a massive fan base and I can’t wait to meet them. I can’t wait to play under Dhoni. My teammate Sam Curran is there too. This made my day, made my year,” said Ali in a video message.
Bangladesh star Shakib Al Hasan was lapped up by KKR for ₹3.2 crore. He missed the IPL last year as he was serving a ban for failing to report a corrupt approach.
Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile also ended up with a good deal, fetching a ₹5 crore bid from Mumbai Indians. He had a base price of ₹1.5 crore.
Australian Steve Smith, who was released by Rajasthan Royals, was bought by Delhi Capitals for ₹2.20 crore, only ₹20 lakh more than his base price.
At his base price of ₹1.5 crore, England batsman Dawid Malan was a bargain buy for Punjab Kings, who went into the auction with the maximum purse among eight teams.
New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne went to Mumbai Indians for ₹3.2 crore, more than six times his base price of ₹50 lakh.
Among the players who went unsold were Harbhajan Singh, Hanuma Vihari, Karun Nair, Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Adil Rashid, Kedar Jadhav, Mustafizur Rahman and Aaron Finch.