The smartest-looking lady made the smartest bid to snare Kieron Pollard, the most sought-after cricketer in the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) third player auction held in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon.
Nita Ambani, Mumbai Indians’ owner, walked into the bidding room at a five-star hotel here wearing a newly-designed team T-shirt. She later said she was sure of what to purchase. It is a different matter that three other teams – Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders – had walked in with similar plans. However, it was Ambani’s superior, secret, bid that prevailed.
The bidding for Pollard began at a base price of $200,000 and soon turned into a hot battle between Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Every passing bid of $10,000 saw all the four teams locked in a tie when the entire purse of $750,000 was emptied. Lalit Modi, the IPL chief, then called for the tie-breaker rule where all three franchisees concerned had to quote an amount – a silent bid which wouldn’t be revealed – and the team quoting the highest amount could buy Pollard.
The Knight Riders were the first to back off at this stage, leaving the other three to slug it out. Ambani wrote an amount slightly higher than Rs 6.5 crore (approximately $1.75m) which saw her pip rivals N Srinivasan (Chennai Super Kings) and Vijay Mallya (Royal Challengers). The idea, it seemed, was to keep in mind that the Kings and the Challengers would be missing out on the services of their costliest players this season – Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen – and so they would utilize that money to buy another player.
Mumbai Indians may have caught a whiff of it (considering that Chennai and Bangalore would have to pay Flintoff and KP only 10% of their cost price of $1.5m) and thus quoted a figure slightly higher than $1.5m. Pollard was theirs.
“The team strategy, discussed between Sachin Tendulkar, TA Sekar and Robin Singh was that we wanted a batting allrounder and we are happy to have him,” Nita Ambani said after the successful bid.
Pollard technically emerged the costliest player of the IPL, as the money spent on him totals up to a mindboggling $1.75m. Ironically, according to the auction rules, the Trinindadian will only get $750,000. The rest of the amount ($1.55m) will go into the IPL kitty.
Following the sale of Pollard, there was another equally intense bidding for Shane Bond in the second round. The New Zealand pacer attracted three teams and all were tied till they expended their entire amount. Bond’s latest CV update, that he doesn’t play Tests for New Zealand any more, made him a more viable option because of his availability. This saw his value rise from a floor price of $100,000 to the price cap of $750,000 after which Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers submitted their respective ‘silent bids’.
Eventually, Bond went to the Knight Riders, who quoted an approximate amount of $1m to net him. They had, in fact, entered the bidding at $640,000 first-up and shown enough inclination to buy the fast bowler.
“From what we have understood he won’t be playing Tests anymore but only ODIs and Twenty20. Yes, he is prone to injuries but his coach said he is in good shape. We wanted a fast bowler and he provides us that,” Jai Mehta, co-owner, Knight Riders, said after the bid.
Two other notable signings were South African Wayne Parnell, who was bought by Delhi Daredevils for $610,000 and West Indian Kemar Roach, who went to Deccan Chargers for $750,000. In both instances, the franchisees which ‘won out’ had to go through gruelling bidding.