Cricket entering new era of riches
Cricket will enter uncharted territory on February 20 when top international players from around the world will be auctioned off to eight bidders who have bought million-dollar franchises for fielding city-based teams in the Indian Premier League.
Around 85 international players are to go under the auctioner's hammer when team franchises - with owners ranging from top industrialists Mukesh Ambhani and Vijay Mallya to Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta - will bid for several top names in international cricket.
Four iconic players of India - Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh - are not among the players who will be bid for as they have to play for their respective city franchises - Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mohali - for the League to be held from April 18 to June 1.
There have been demands for the inclusion of two other top Indians - V V S Laxman (Hyderabad) and Virender Sehwag (Delhi) in the iconic players' list and a decision on the matter by the IPL Governing Council headed by Lalit Modi is awaited.
Included among the global cricket super stars on sale are Australian captain Ricky Ponting, highest Test wicket taker Muthiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka and controversial Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar.
Also among the list of players are retired Australian greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath and South Africa's Shaun Pollock, apart from the soon-to-be-retiring Adam Gilchrist of Australia.
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