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Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Third Indian Premier League begins with a whimper

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

Rajasthan Royals co-owner Shilpa Shetty
The glamour of Bollywood overshadowed this year's bidding

The budgets were limited and slots were few. Requirements were clear and decisions were quick. The third auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL) was over in less than two hours and all in all was something of a lukewarm affair.

By then West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard and New Zealand paceman Shane Bond were the costliest players at the auction after a "secret tie breaker" in which Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata all matched the $750,000 maximum offer allowed for the 22-year-old Pollard.

The four teams were then given an extra five minutes to decide how much extra they wanted to commit and had to indicate their final price in a sealed envelope - with Mumbai Indians coming out on top.

Bond also went for the top price, with Kolkata Knight Riders winning the bidding.

Talking point

While 67 overseas players were up for sale, only 11 attracted successful bids.

Naved-ul-Hasan
The talents of Pakistani stars - for whatever the reasons - were ignored

The main talking point clearly was that none of the 11 Pakistani players - the current T20 champions - received any bids and went unsold.

This was a major surprise and may in part be due to fears over visa problems. Following the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai - which India blamed on Pakistani-based militants - Pakistan said it would not allow its cricketers to travel to India for the 2009 tournament which ended up being played in South Africa.

It was still unclear on Tuesday whether Pakistani players even had valid visas and no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Sport journalist Ayaz Memon said that while he did not know if the Indian government had advised clubs not to buy Pakistani players, "the logic seemed [to be] that if the relations between the two governments were fickle then it may have influenced the decision of the franchisee".

"For example, if you do have two or three Pakistani players and they are not able to play at the time of tournament for any reasons - visas or whatever - then you are stuck," he said.

"Several Australian players have been not passed because they are not available full time. The franchisees have become wiser. There is no doubt that [Pakistani batsman] Shahid Afridi is currently the best T20 player."

Bollywood star Preity Zinta, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab team, said every team had a "specific strategy" only to bid for certain players.

Ness Wadia - a co-owner of the same team - said that the availability or otherwise of players was "a major issue" and because of that there were no bids for some stars.

Not satisfied with the official explanation in relation to the Pakistani team, the media has speculated there could be political reasons for the omission.

But IPL commissioner Lalit Modi insisted that decisions were taken by franchisees according to their "cricketing strategy".

He said many other players besides the Pakistanis had not been sold.

Exhausted

Only four non-Indians are permitted to feature in each playing XI, with eight in each squad.

Preity Zinta
Bollywood stars ended up having to answer tough cricketing questions

As the contracts will be for only one year, the upper limit a team could spend on a player was set at $750,000.

When players like Shane Bond and Kieron Pollard had been accounted for, South African left-armer Wayne Parnell and West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach were both the subjects of competitive bidding.

After that, the auction cooled down.

When asked about the secret tie breaker amount, Mr Modi was tight-lipped and repeatedly said that some prices would not be discussed.

"Some things have to remain secret," he said.

As usual at an event like this, Bollywood stars attracted the maximum media attention and stole the show.

Nita Ambani sported a Mumbai Indians T-shirt while photographers jostled to get close to Shilpa Shetty, Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia.

Shilpa Shetty was asked about her team picking 38-year old Damien Martyn, who will revive a 20-year friendship with Shane Warne - and his own seemingly finished cricket career - after becoming one of just two Australians who were chosen.

Ms Shetty said that she had constantly in touch with captain and coach Warne who had provided advice throughout the auction.

The third IPL starts on 12 March and ends on 25 April.

All the players bought from the auction in Mumbai will be given a one-year contract valid until 31 December which will also cover a Champions League T20 tournament later this year.


Full list of IPL auctions:

Kieron Pollard [West Indies] - Mumbai Indians ($749,878 tie-break)
Shane Bond [New Zealand] - Kolkata Knight Riders ($749,878 tie-break)
Kemar Roach [West Indies] - Deccan Chargers ($718,716)
Wayne Parnell [South Africa] - Delhi Daredevils ($608,841)
Mohammad Kaif [India] - Kings XI Punjab ($250,410)
Eoin Morgan [England] - Royal Challengers Bangalore ($219,333)
Damien Martyn [Australia] - Rajasthan Royals ($99,849)
Justin Kemp [South Africa] - Chennai Super Kings ($99,849)
Adam Voges [Australia] - Rajasthan Royals ($49,106)
Thissara Perera [Sri Lanka] - Chennai Super Kings ($49,106)
Yusuf Abdulla [South Africa] - Kings XI Punjab ($49,106)



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