England bad boy Ben Stokes fetched the biggest price at the Indian Premier League auction for a second straight year as three Australians landed in the top six most expensive players.
Chris Lynn, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell all secured monster pay days, but paled in comparison to Stokes who fetched more than the $A2.4 million paid by Rajasthan Royals to secure the explosive all-rounder.
The affray charge hanging over Stokes' head that kept him out of England's failed Ashes campaign and the one-day series against Australia didn't deter the IPL franchise, who fended off interest from Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils.
It means Stokes will play alongside Australian captain Steve Smith again, the pair having teamed up at Rising Pune Supergiants last year.
Smith was the only player the Royals opted to retain heading into this year's auction, and Stokes will earn approximately $100,000 more than the Aussie skipper for his services at the tournament.
Brisbane Heat power hitter Chris Lynn earned a rich reward for his Big Bash dominance last summer with the Knight Riders shelling out roughly $A1.9m to land the burly Queenslander.
He will play alongside Mitchell Starc, who was the pick of the fast bowlers in early bidding, securing a contract at the Kolkata franchise for almost $1.9m, just an hour before his wife Alyssa Healy blasted a women's Big Bash century for the Sydney Sixers at Hurstville Oval.
"It's a good day," Healy said after being told of Starc's auction price. "Hopefully he stays injury free and gets over there."
Knight Riders assistant coach Simon Katich was also delighted with the Starc capture.
"Very happy. He's one of the premier white-ball bowlers in the world, left arm as well and obviously someone that bowls well with the new ball and at the end," Katich said. "Fantastic to get him on board."
In-form all-rounder Maxwell secured his annual monster pay day, landing about $1.8m in a big-money return to the Ricky Ponting-coached Delhi Daredevils.
Bangalore and Hyderabad had been in the running, but Ponting was determined to get his man.
Earlier in the week Maxwell blasted 84 from 47 balls for the Melbourne Stars at the SCG, despite battling conjunctivitis.
The Victorian has spent the past four years with Kings XI Punjab, but returns to the franchise where he cut his teeth in the IPL.
Soon after the hammer fell on his immediate IPL future, Maxwell tweeted: "Thank you to the @lionsdenkxip for the last 4 years! The opportunities you provided for me have helped mould me in to the player and person I am today. I'm extremely excited to be able to return to the place where I started my IPL career! Cant wait @DelhiDaredevils!"
West Indian slugger Chris Gayle enjoyed no such luck, going through unsold despite his standing in the game as the most destructive Twenty20 cricketer in history.
None of the eight franchises were interested in his maximum base price of just under $400,000, although he could still be auctioned off on day two.
England captain Joe Root, Australian all-rounder James Faulkner, South African Hashim Amla and Indian batsman Murali Vijay were a handful of other big names to go unsold.
Stokes became the highest-paid player in IPL history last season when the Supergiants parted with about $2.8m.
He hasn't played international cricket since September but has been named to return for England in the T20 tri-series against Australia and New Zealand next month, although the February 13 fixture against the Black Caps in Wellington that looked like his return now clashes with his first court appearance to answer the affray charge.
"In the circumstances, I have decided that it would not be right to join my teammates until after attending court on the 13th," Stokes tweeted on Tuesday night.