Value for money is likely to be the theme at the players’ auction for the third edition of the Indian Premier League, to be held in Mumbai on Tuesday, with teams indicating that they are more interested in players who will be available for the entire duration of the tournament.
Kolkata Knight Riders, who bought Bangladesh all-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza for $6,00,000 (Rs 2.7 crore) and played him in only one match last year, set the tone by releasing Australia skipper Ricky Ponting of his contract. Ponting is unlikely to be available for a major part of the tournament, which begins on March 12.
IPL commissioner Lalit Modi confirmed on Twitter that Ponting was out of KKR, while Royal Challengers Bangalore also ended their relationship with Australian speedster Nathan Bracken.
Though officials of both teams were unwilling to comment on what prompted them to release the players, sources said their unavailability for a major period of the competition could be a big factor.
Australia host New Zealand for a full series in February-March, which is followed by their flagship domestic championship — Sheffield Shield — and some state teams are unwilling to free their players for IPL.
“It makes sense to buy out a player’s contract and bid for someone who will play throughout the tournament,” said an official of one of the franchisees.
The IPL has left the door open for others to follow suit by extending the deadline to release players till 11.59 am on Tuesday. The auction starts at noon.
There are 67 players on the auction list, with 12 slots to be filled among the eight franchisees at the time of going to press. All teams will have a prize purse of $7,50,000 (Rs 3.4 crore).
After this season, all players will be re-auctioned, though modalities are being worked out to ensure that teams can retain some of their players.