Top industrialists and Bollywood stars rode the cricket bandwagon as big-ticket sport achieved a new meaning with unprecedented money pouring into the game that will be seen in a new professional garb called the Indian Premier League.
The likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Mukesh Ambani, the reigning deities of India's film and business world, led a rush of more than $718 million as bidding fees for the eight teams on offer.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India holds complete rights to the newly-established league, the entry into which will cost each winning bidder 10 per cent of the money they offered at the auction in Mumbai Thursday.
Even as elder brother Mukesh Ambani, India's wealthiest man and chairman of Reliance Industries, the country's biggest company, picked up the prized cherry - the Mumbai team - younger sibling and marathon enthusiast Anil Ambani's Reliance ADAG Group was among the three losers Thursday from the 11 companies, that entered the fray to own the eight teams in the league.
The big bucks flowing into the game was an indicator of how the centre of gravity of the game has shifted from Lord's, traditional home of cricket, to the cricket maidans of Mumbai and Kolkata.
The three losing bidders in the race for the Indian Premier League teams were Reliance - ADAG Group of Anil Ambani, DLF and a Consortium led by Deutsche Bank, according to Lalit Modi, Vice-President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Mumbai's film world entered the world of cricket sponsorship in style. Shah Rukh - in partnership with Juhi Chawla - won the bid for the Kolkata team while Preity Zinta picked up the franchisee right for the team from Mohali in Punjab. The actress put in her bid in association with friend Nes Wadia of the Bombay Dyeing group.
"I will support cricket and not promote cricket, otherwise people will say I am promoting my films," said Shah Rukh, in a clear dig at all those who had said that when he was spotted with the Indian team at the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.
"If you come to my house, you will see all kind of sports equipment and we (his family) keep on playing all kinds of sport," he added.
Earlier, three companies, Future Group, Sahara Hospitality and ICICI Ventures were disqualified from the bidding process.
Flamboyant Vijay Mallya of the UB Group admitted that he wanted the Mumbai team, but he was outbid by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance. Ambani won with the highest bid of $111.9 million. Deccan Chronicle put in the second highest bid of $107.01 million for the Hyderabad team while Mallya's UB Group put in the third highest bid of $106 million for Bangalore.
Ogilvy & Mather will be the advertising agency for IPL and Mindshare will do the media buying for the League, which will see an unprecedented media blitz.
The winners and the winning bids for the eight teams for the Indian Premier League were:
1. Mukesh Ambani's Reliance for Mumbai - $111.9 million
2. Deccan Chronicle for Hyderabad - $107.01 million
3. Vijay Mallya's UB Group for Bangalore - $106 million
4. India Cements for Chennai - $91 million
5. GMR Holdings for Delhi - $84 million
6. Consortium led by Preity Zinta for Mohali - $76 million
7. Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies (with Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta) for Kolkata - $75.09 million
8. Emerging Media, a consortium including Manoj Badale of England, Lachlan Murdoch and some other investors for Jaipur - $67 million