Season three of the Indian Premier League could be billed as the "Return of the Calypso Kings" if the figures bid for Kieron Pollard are to be believed. The Mumbai Indians have reportedly paid an IPL record US$2.75million (Dh10.1m) in a "silent tie-breaker bid" for the explosive all-rounder from Trinidad & Tobago after a four-way tie for his services after his maximum bid price of US$750,000 was met.
The unofficial figures quoted for Pollard eclipse the US$1.55m each paid for the English duo of Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen last season. "It was a team strategy decided by Sachin Tendulkar and Robin Singh to have Pollard," said the Mumbai Indians owner, Nita Ambani, when asked why she chose to exhaust all the money on just one player. "I go by their judgement." Pollard sparked a bidding way following his 18-ball 54 for Trinidad & Tobago against New South Wales in the Champions League Twenty20 final in October.
Starting from a base price of US$200,000, bids for the 22-year-old reached the maximum amount of $750,000, with Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore locked in a four-way tie with Mumbai. "It is an honour to play with Sachin Tendulkar. I have grown up as a kid by watching him on television," said Pollard. "It's brilliant for me to get the chance to play in the IPL. It will be an exposure and also an opportunity to show what player Pollard can do.
"I have full confidence in myself. You are supposed to have no doubt on yourself while playing. I just go out and try to play some big shots." The Kolkata Knight Riders, however, managed to outbid Deccan Chargers for the services of New Zealand speedster Shane Bond after a three-way tie at US$750,000. They have reportedly paid US$1.3m for the Black Cap, who announced his retirement from Test cricket last month.
Both Bond and Pollard will, however, earn only U$750,000 each, while the excess bid amount will go into the coffers of the IPL. "We were looking at getting a pacer and had two-three choices," said Jai Mehta, the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner after spending all his budget on Bond. "We had made up our minds we wanted Bond and we stuck to our strategy." Bond, who has played in the rebel Indian Cricket League, is looking forward to the IPL, which starts on March 12, and playing at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
"The experience, energy and the crowds is huge because it is a massive world event," he said. "If I do get a chance to play, I would love to play at Eden Gardens with 90,000 exciting fans cheering me on." Pollard was not the only West Indian to attract huge interest. His Trinidad & Tobago teammate, Kemar Roach, starting from a base price of US$100,000, was bought by the Deccan Chargers for US$720,000, the second-highest price paid at the auctions.
Delhi Daredevils made Wayne Parnell their big-money signing, slugging it out with the Deccan Charges before getting the South African paceman for U$610,000. All the three players who started the auction with the large base price of US$250,000 - Shahid Afridi, Graeme Swann and Brad Haddin - were unsold, along with 54 others in the pool of 66. Just two Australians made the cut; Damien Martyn, for US$100,000, and Adam Voges, for US$50,000. They will join Shane Warne at the Rajasthan Royals.
Eoin Morgan was the lone England player picked. He will be joining his Pietersen at Bangalore after a US$220,000 bid. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org