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KOCHI: England all-rounder Sam Curran became the most expensive player bought by the money-spinning Indian Premier League on Friday when Punjab Kings paid 185 million rupees ($2.23 million) for his services.

The left-arm quick and attacking middle-order batsman was among a selection of the world’s top cricketers going under the hammer this year.

His purchase set a local currency record, surpassing South African all-rounder Chris Morris who was snatched up by Rajasthan Royals for 162.5 million rupees in 2021.

Morris’s deal was worth $2.25 million at the time but the Indian currency has stumbled in recent months on the back of inflation and global economic headwinds.

Curran was Player of the Tournament in the T20 World Cup after his skills as a “death bowler” closing down opposition batsmen in the final overs turned him into a potent weapon for England.

The left-arm quick and attacking middle-order batsman had a successful stint with Chennai Super Kings but parted ways after a back injury and missed the 2022 edition.

Curran has a strike rate of nearly 150 and was placed in the top band of the auction list alongside big-hitting compatriot Ben Stokes.

More than 400 players are up for grabs at Friday’s auction in the southern city of Kochi.

The IPL is a huge earner for Indian cricket and the tournament made more than $11 billion for the economy each year, according to pre-pandemic estimates.

In June the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sold the broadcast rights for the next five seasons to global media giants for an eye-watering $6.2 billion.

This year it expanded to include 10 franchises battling it out in 74 matches, climaxing in a final in the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad in front of 105,000 fans – and millions more watching on television and smartphones.

Debutants Gujarat Kings, hailing from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, won that battle on their home ground.

Mumbai Indians are the richest and most successful side in IPL history with five titles to their name.

Attracting some of world cricket’s top stars with bumper salaries, the pioneering IPL helped make Twenty20 hugely popular, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and spawning copycat events worldwide.

The BCCI is also working to launch a five-team women’s edition of the tournament next March, ahead of the next IPL season.

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