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 Nita 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. Nita 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 quoted a figure slightly higher than $1.5m and 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.
The Mumbai Indians have now exhausted their purse and will play no more part in the auctions.