Mumbai, Feb 20: Cricket will enter uncharted territory on Wednesday 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 auctioneer’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.
There are reports from Australia that two players - Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson - have decided not to take part in the 44-day Twenty20 tournament, but there's as yet no official confirmation from IPL.
The IPL governing council has decided that not more than five million USD and not less than 3.3 million USD can be bid for each lot of international players by each franchise, to ensure a level playing field in the tournament.
Each franchise would have to buy sixteeen players at the minimum, out of which four should be from India and under the age of 22 and four other local players hailing from catchment areas earmarked by the IPL for each of the eight franchises.
The four local players can include the four icons: Tendulkar (for Mumbai franchise owned by Ambhani's Rel), Dravid (for Bangalore franchise owned by Mallya's UB group); Ganguly (for Kolkata franchise owned by Shah Rukh's Red Chillies entertainment) and Yuvraj Singh (for Mohali franchise owned by Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, R Burman and group).
Each of the iconic players have to be bought by paying 15 per cent more than that had been successfully bid for the most expensive player of their respective city franchises.
The cap placed on bids for a pool of international players by each franchise does not include the local (apart from the iconic player) and under 22 players whose base price has been fixed as USD 20,000.
The other four franchise owners are: Hyderabad (Deccan Chronicle group), Chennai (India cements), Delhi (GRM group) and Jaipur (emerging media group).