By Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - South African all-rounder Chris Morris became Indian Premier League's (IPL) most expensive buy in the players' auction on Thursday, while China's Vivo returned as the title sponsor of the eight-team tournament.
Six players, including three Australians, emerged as millionaires from the auction ahead of this year's tournament scheduled to begin in April.
Morris returned to the Rajasthan Royals for a staggering 162.5 million rupees ($2.2 million) following a fierce bidding war involving the Punjab Kings.
"He's one of those players with experience who can deal with a price tag like that," Rajasthan chief operating officer Jake Lush McCrum told a video conference.
"We've rebalanced the side this year. He fills an important role for us," he said of the 33-year-old all-rounder.
"A quality bowler for all phases of the game, and he can win a game with a bat as well."
Towering New Zealand quick Kyle Jamieson was snapped up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for 150 million rupees.
Bangalore also agreed to shell out 142.5 million for Glenn Maxwell, outbidding Chennai Super Kings to snap up the explosive Australia all-rounder.
Australian quicks Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith joined Punjab for 150 million rupees and 80 million respectively.
Uncapped Krishnappa Gowtham was the only Indian millionaire who joined Chennai for 92.5 million rupees.
Among the uncapped players, Arjun Tendulkar was bought for two million Indian rupees ($27,546) by defending champions Mumbai Indians, who have his father and batting great Sachin as the team mentor.
England all-rounder Moeen Ali was sold to Chennai for 70 million rupees, while compatriot and top-ranked T20 batsman Dawid Malan joined Punjab for 15 million.
Australia's Steve Smith, who was released by Rajasthan last year, went to Delhi Capitals, coached by compatriot Ricky Ponting, for 22 million rupees.
Earlier, IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed Chinese smartphone maker Vivo's return as title sponsor of the world's richest Twenty20 league.
Vivo had secured the IPL sponsorship rights for 2018-2022 for nearly 22 billion rupees but pulled out of last year's tournament amid a backlash against Chinese firms in India.
($1 = 72.6 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pritha Sarkar)