Explosive West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard and ageing Kiwi paceman Shane Bond turned out to be the most expensive players, sold for a whopping USD 750,000 (app Rs 3.42 crore) at the third Indian Premier League auction here today.
But 11 Pakistanis, including Shahid Afridi with a base price of USD 250,000, in a 66-strong pool of players found no takers at the glitzy auction, attended by corporate bigwigs like Vijay Mallya and Nita Ambani and Bollywood stars like Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty.
Pollard, who started with a base price of USD 200,000, was expectedly one of the most sought after but was ultimately bought by Mumbai Indians with a 'silent tie-breaker bid' after four franchises ended up bidding the maximum on the 22-year-old.
Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders also wanted to grab the big-hitting all-rounder but couldn't match Mumbai's undisclosed tie-breaker bid.
"The tie-breaker bid amount remains with me and the team owners, it won't be disclosed," said IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.
Like Pollard, the 34-year-old Bond (base price USD 100,000) also attracted a keen bidding war between Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers but the Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata walked away with the Kiwi after out-bidding Deccan in the tie-breaker.
Bond, an Indian Cricket League returnee, had had an injury-marred career but Kolkata justified buying him saying that the pacer's experience would be valuable.
"He is not playing Tests anymore. He is injury prone but his coach has told us that he is in good shape right now. We wanted a fast bowler and an experienced one. Shane fulfills the criteria," said KKR joint owner Jay Mehta.
West Indians were also among the hot picks at the auction with paceman Kemar Roach becoming the second costliest player, sold to Deccan Chargers for USD 720,000.
Both Pollard and Roach featured in the West Indian domestic side Trinidad and Tobago, which won the Champions League Twenty20 last year.
"It was a team strategy decided by Sachin Tendulkar and Robin Singh to have Pollard. I go by their judgement," said Mumbai Indians owner Nita Ambani when asked why she chose to exhaust all the money on just one player.
South African Wayne Parnell, a 20-year-old hard-hitting all-rounder, also fetched a lot more then his base price of USD 200,000, bought for USD 610,000 by Delhi Daredevils.
Rajasthan Royals picked retired Australian Damien Martyn, also an ICL returnee, for USD 100,000 apart from securing the services of pacer Adam Voges for USD 50,000.
"We were constantly on phone with our captain Shane Warne. He decides all this and we have got exactly what we wanted. Voges is a good player and so is Martyn," said Rajasthan stakeholder Shilpa Shetty.
Chennai Super Kings recalled South African hard-hitter Justin Kemp by paying USD 100,000 and also bought emerging Sri Lankan batsman Thisara Perera for USD 50,000.
Mohammed Kaif, the only Indian player featuring in the auction after his contract was bought out by Rajasthan Royals, went unsold in the first round but was later taken by Kings XI Punjab for USD 2,50,000. Kings XI also recalled South African pacer Yusuf Abdullah.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bid for just one player and got England's Eoin Morgan for USD 2,20,000.
In all, 56 players remained unsold out of 67 that went under the hammer. The prominent Pakistani players who failed to find any buyers, included bowling all-rounder Sohail Tanvir, Akmal brothers -- Umar and Kamran, rising pacer Mohammad Aamer, Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Gul.
The second edition of the event, which had to be shifted to South Africa due to a clash of dates with general elections, did not feature any Pakistani players in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.
Modi and franchise owners said with Pakistani players availability still not sure, they didn't want to take the risk of including them in the squads.
"Availability is an issue with the owners. Teams know when to replace and whom to replace based on their availability. Their strategy is devised on that basis," said Modi.
"We were not convinced about the availability of Pakistani players so didn't want to take the risk," added Shetty.
Three Under-19 Indian players at a fixed price of Rs 8 lakh were also in the auction list. Royal Challengers Bangalore chose U-19 skipper Ashok Maneria, Deccan Chargers preferred Harmeet Singh and Mumbai Indians opted for Harshal Patel.
The third edition of the extremely popular Twenty20 tournament will begin from March 12.
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