Auction drama

The total lack of interest in Pakistani players at Tuesday’s auction for the third edition of the Indian Premier League was on expected lines, given the fluidity surrounding political ties between the two countries. Pakistan’s Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi, the flamboyant all-rounder, and left-arm medium-pacer Sohail Tanvir, the top wicket-taker in the inaugural edition of the 20-over bash, were among star attractions from across the border, but with franchises not convinced that Pakistani players would be available for IPL III, it came as no real surprise that not one of the 11 in the auction fray was picked up. IPL is entertainment combined with business and business knows no prejudice, but the eight franchise owners would have been acutely aware of the existing political climate in India’s neighbourhood.

Certainly, the auction in Mumbai wasn’t without its fair share of fireworks. With $7,50,000 each at their disposal and needing to fill no more than two slots, at best, the teams had clearly identified the personnel they coveted. Kieron Pollard and Shane Bond were the hottest draws, both attracting multiple bids at the maximum amount available and necessitating the ‘silent tie-breaker’, a new introduction, to break the deadlock. Pollard, the Trinidad & Tobago all-rounder who took the Champions League by storm with his blistering batting that took his team to the title round, was snapped up by the Mumbai Indians. Bond, back in the official fold after severing his ties with the ‘rebel’ Indian Cricket League and recently retired from Test cricket, went to the Kolkata Knight Riders, short on fast bowling resources without Umar Gul and the unpredictable Shoaib Akhtar.

Big spending was extremely selective, only South African left-arm quick Wayne Parnell and West Indian tearaway Kemar Roach of the rest attracting numbers way above modest base prices. Bangalore’s Royal Challengers went for diminutive England batsman Eoin Morgan, a busy left-hander who can quickly switch gears, in a clear bid to provide more meat to their middle-order. Interestingly, wicket-keeper Brad Haddin and left-arm quick Doug Bollinger found no takers, perhaps because teams already had enough personnel plying the same trade as the Aussie duo, but also because fresh auctions will be held for IPL IV when the original three-year contracts of a majority of the players come to an end.

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