The last 48 hours set in motion the duality of the imminent auction — the rival teams’ bids for the ideal combination; and whispers about the Mukul Mudgal report.

Since its inception in 2008, the Indian Premier League, besides its frenzied cricket, spun off a parallel cottage industry that thrived on entertainment. While the purists fumed, T20’s most lucrative domestic version chugged merrily on until another needless dimension was added due to the last edition’s spot-fixing and betting crisis.

Now, when a new season is scheduled to get its first building blocks during the player auction at the ITC Gardenia Hotel here on Wednesday and probably Thursday, last year’s ghosts have returned to haunt. The Mudgal committee report, released on Monday, has delivered a damning indictment of corruption in the IPL.

512 cricketers

An auction that has 512 cricketers ranging from the illustrious Jacques Kallis to India under-19 captain Vijay Zol going under the hammer is now in the throes of an identity crisis.

Weirdly, but surely fitting into all the recent angst around the IPL, the Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore was asked here on Tuesday: “Do you think the auction should go on?” Mysore shrugged his shoulders and said: “Not for me to decide. There are other qualified people to take these decisions.”

The last 48 hours set in motion the duality of the imminent auction — the rival teams’ bids for the ideal combination; and whispers about the Mukul Mudgal report.

Amidst the cacophony, the ITC Gardenia was agog with rival think-tanks preparing their wish-lists for their dream players. Kevin Pietersen may find himself friendless in England but out here, his name will cause a stir when auctioneer Richard Madley mentions his name. Pietersen, New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson and South Africa’s wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock might trigger a bidding war.

Mitchell Johnson, after all the mayhem he unleashed in the Ashes, will be another top-pick and there are expectations that his former team Mumbai Indians, the defending champion, might exercise its lone ‘Right-to-match’ card to snap him up.

Right-to-match card

The ‘Right-to-match’ card, a new addition to the auction, enables a team to have the last word and stake claim to a former player it fancies. The team just has to match the highest bid by a rival outfit and the player will be back in its fold.

The bids will be influenced by money in the wallet, the number of ‘Right-to-match’ cards and above all this, the perfect combination that every team-owner desires.

From under-19 players to veterans like Herschelle Gibbs (40 years) and Muttiah Muralitharan (41), the list cuts across age-groups though the lingering truth from previous auctions is that owners prefer ruthlessness to sentiment and have even overlooked men like Brian Lara.

Teams generally aim at achieving balance besides adding a few players, who lend local flavour. However, a few overseas stars like Chris Gayle with the Royal Challengers Bangalore have formed their own regional identities and an avid RCB supporter considers the West Indian as one of his own.

Owners will also have to contend with general elections this summer and the prospect of the league shifting base to some other country. That could also influence their choices.

The retentions (read as ‘retained players’, ‘remaining money’ and ‘available ‘Right to Match’ cards’):

Chennai Super Kings: M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo. Rs. 21 crore. Right-to-match cards: 1 (not eligible for a capped India player).

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu. Rs. 21 crore. Right-to-match cards: 1.

Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny and Sanju Vishwanadh. Rs. 22.5 crore. Right-to-match cards: 1.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and A.B. de Villiers. Rs. 30.5 crore. Right-to-match cards: 1.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine. Rs. 38 crore. Right-to-match cards: 2.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn. Rs. 38 crore. Right-to-match cards: 2.

King’s XI Punjab: David Miller and Manan Vohra. Rs. 43.5 crore. Right-to-match cards: 2.

Delhi Daredevils: No players retained. Rs. 60 crore. Right-to-match cards: 3.

Players with the highest reserve price of Rs. 2 crore: Mahela Jayawardene, Mitchell Johnson, Jacques Kallis, Kevin Pietersen, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Murali Vijay, George Bailey, Michael Hussey, Dinesh Karthik, Brendon McCullum, Amit Mishra, Brad Hodge, Shaun Marsh, Ross Taylor, Manoj Tiwary, Robin Uthappa, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Angelo Mathews, Yusuf Pathan, Steven Smith, Praveen Kumar, Mitchell Starc, Pragyan Ojha, Alex Hales, Marlon Samuels, Brett Lee, Ashish Nehra and Samit Patel.