All set for the IPL auction

Corporate honchos and film stars will open their wallets and hope for the best when the Indian Premier League's player auction is held at the ITC Royal Gardenia Hotel on Saturday and Sunday.

This is the biggest auction in the tournament's history after the first auction on February 20, 2008, in Mumbai in which M.S. Dhoni secured the highest bid at $1.5 million from Chennai Super Kings.

Bigger money

Subsequently, though there were auctions in 2009 and 2010, the list of available players was limited as the eight teams had a settled look with regular contracts. The latest auction is bound to attract bigger money as 349 players are up for grabs while five franchises retained 12 players between them.

Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders, Deccan Chargers and Kings XI Punjab have released their entire pool of players. Besides the earlier eight teams, new entrants — Kochi and Pune — will also bid for the cricketers who will come under the hammer with noted auctioneer Richard Madley doing his best to loosen the purse strings.

Team owners have a cap of $9 million each to buy their fresh squads but some franchises will have a smaller budget like for instance Chennai Super Kings that has retained four players starting with Dhoni. Interestingly, Brian Lara, who last played an international match in 2007, is featured in the top tier with a reserve price of $400,000. This top tier also has former India captains Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

Most of the game's legends over the past decade are expected to be part of the annual Twenty20 format but Anil Kumble will be sorely missed after the former RCB captain opted out of the auction. Also missing from the list are the Pakistan cricketers and Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, the Australian trio opting for rest.

Despite the churn it witnessed last year, the IPL is part of the world's leading sporting brands. The controversies around IPL reached a fever pitch in 2010 with its former commissioner Lalit Modi being forced out after allegations of financial irregularities.

The players retained: Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga; Chennai Super Kings: M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina, M. Vijay and Albie Morkel; Rajasthan Royals: Shane Warne, Shane Watson; Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag; Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli.

The base price of leading players: Top tier ($400,000): Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, James Anderson, Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Graeme Smith, A.B. de Villiers, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Brian Lara and Chris Gayle.

Second tier ($300,000): Jacques Kallis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Zaheer Khan, Yusuf Pathan, V.V.S. Laxman, Shaun Tait, Andrew Symonds, Angelo Mathews and Kumar Sangakkara.

Third tier ($200,000): Gautam Gambhir, Dale Steyn, Shakib-al-Hasan, Michael Hussey, Doug Bollinger, Dirk Nannes, Eoin Morgan, Robin Uthappa, Sanath Jayasuriya and David Hussey .

Recommended for you