IPL 4 auction: Ten bidders, 350 players, 16 hrs and $75m

In a matter of 16 hours spread over two days from Saturday morning, $75 million (Rs. 3.3 billion) will be coughed up by some of India’s rich and famous to buy world’s best cricketing stars for the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 2011 edition of the IPL will see 74 matches with ten teams and some of the hardest hitters and greatest bowlers in action.

The team owners make money from gate collection at the stadium, from advertisement, from selling team memorabilia. Many run websites too to build dedicated fan base and sell items – from T-shirts to cricket gear with the team logo embossed.

From a five-day Test with a rest day in between, cricket has grown in popularity exponentially with introduction of the one-day format.

None expected the game will reach dizzying heights by becoming even shorter. The IPL, which started off with a bombastic title of ‘Chairman and Commissioner’ for the man heading it three years ago, Lalit Modi, has not only done that. It has come to stay and is spreading to other cricketing countries as well with some already boasting of their version of Twenty20.

For two days from Saturday, the ITC Royal Gardenia in the heart of the IT hub will be the scene of both – action and auction.

A portly, flamboyant Vijay Mallya, a liquor to airlines honcho, dimpled Preity Zinta, the lissome Shilpa Shetty, the diminutive Gayathri Reddy and Nita Ambani, another portly honcho N. Srinivasan and above all the ‘King of Bollywood’ Shah Rukh Khan or their representatives will be bidding for their best bets.

Far away in London or somewhere in England will be the ‘Chairman and Commissioner’ of the first three IPL editions Modi, now more busy battling various charges against him than strutting around the auction venue, like a larger than life figure he did in the past.

He may well see it live on TV channels, perhaps with a wry smile that the auction is without him. Only he had the charisma to keep the bidders and viewers on the edge of their seats, like in an actual T20 game at the stadium.

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