Pietersen gets another Delhi payday
6:29am Wednesday 12th February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Kevin Pietersen is a Delhi Daredevil once more - a snip at £880,000 after day one of the Indian Premier League auction in Bangalore.
England's record runscorer is free for a full IPL season for the first time after his adopted country controversially severed all ties with him and effectively ended his international career last week.
But in an auction also notable for a wipe-out by other England players - all 10 of whom were unsold - and million pound-plus deals for Indians Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik, the South Africa-born batsman's market value proved significantly less than some of the more fanciful estimates put about before bidding began.
As an elite marquee player, Pietersen soon knew his fate as one of the first lots on Wednesday morning.
The 33-year-old quickly tweeted his satisfaction, despite turning out to be not quite the "million-pound asset" England spoke of last winter - before deciding a few weeks later they would be better off after all without him.
Pietersen, who agreed a summer contract to stay with Surrey earlier this week, will continue his association with the Delhi franchise when this year's IPL gets under way for seven-and-a-half weeks in April and May.
That, of course, is no longer of any concern to England - who stipulated, after their 5-0 Ashes trouncing in Australia, that all prospective Test and one-day international players will be expected to demonstrate their credentials in county cricket in May.
Almost a team full of Pietersen's fellow England-qualified players have not yet found a franchise, and their unavailability for the full campaign might have been a factor.
Alex Hales, Samit Patel, Ravi Bopara, Luke Wright and Ian Bell were among those who went unsold - although the maximum base price the Nottinghamshire pair had to agree with their county, in the deal which allowed them to enter the auction, might have played a part.
If they feature on a retained list when the franchises have the pick of all unsold players, they will still have an outside chance of being picked up in round two of the auction on Thursday.
By then, though, their potential employers will be strapped for cash close to the IPL budget limit for that 'clearing' process.
There were no such complications for Pietersen, whose contract was sealed when Delhi reached for their 'right to match' card after Sunrisers Hyderabad beat all other bids in the auction's earliest exchanges.
The IPL Twitter feed very soon read: "@KP24 will play for @DelhiDaredevils who have snapped him up for Rs. 900 lacs using their right to match card against SRH. #IPLAuction"
Shortly afterwards, Pietersen himself added: "Morning - so happy to be back with the Delhi family! Lovely start to the day...''
Pietersen was unable to play for Delhi last year, because of a knee injury which ruled him out of all cricket for three months.
He previously played for both them and Royal Challengers Bangalore but was up for grabs this time after Delhi chose last month not to retain any of their 2013 squad.
Pietersen's price did not quite reach the head-spinning amounts some had predicted, but he was still the most expensive overseas acquisition in the Indian domestic Twenty20 league.
India all-rounder Yuvraj, recalled in his country's ICC World Twenty20 squad just 24 hours earlier, had the honour of being the top lot at £1.4million for Bangalore in an auction which did not break any records.
Just behind him was wicketkeeper Karthik, worth £1.2 million to join Pietersen at Delhi.
Australian Ashes-winners Mitchell Johnson (Kings XI Punjab) and David Warner (Hyderabad), as well as their compatriot short-format specialist Glenn Maxwell (Punjab) were best of the rest among the big-money buys.
South Africa all-round great Jacques Kallis, who retired from Test cricket at the end of last year, was still worth more than £500,000 to Kolkata.