The much hyped Indian Premier League (IPL) kicked into gear yesterday as bidding got underway for the world's top cricket stars.
Representatives of the eight Indian franchises entered the auction room at 11:00am, emerging 10 hours later after spending millions of dollars to secure their dream team.
The big money makers were Indian One Day Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
Dhoni was sold to Chennai for a cool US$1.5million while Symonds fetched US$1.35 million from Hyderabad.
The bidding threw up many surprises, with top Australian's Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden being sold for US$400,000 and US$375,000 respectively, while 19 year old Indian Ishant Sharma collected US$950,000.
The total amount of the bids exceeded US$40million, which is a testament to the extreme talent that was on offer.
The excitement of the bidding was greater than anything ever seen in cricket, according to former Indian Board President Inderjit Singh Bindra.
"I have never seen anything so riveting and so absorbing and so exciting even on the field, it's amazing drama," Bindra said.
There has been much debate over whether players should take part in the IPL, as it will add to an already jam packed international schedule.
However, Australian opening bastman Matthew Hayden believes the IPL is a good way to stay in form, and prepare for an upcoming series.
"If Pakistan is cancelled then I'd have a seven-week break before the West Indies. With the IPL I could have a couple of weeks playing and practising, hitting a lot of balls, because there is no shortage of net bowlers," Hayden said.
The IPL is expected to attract millions of viewers from around the world, especially with the return of retired stars, particularly Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
The auction is just the beginning of the IPL, with each team still required to choose four Indian U-22 players for their squad.
The matches will begin in April, with the tournament spanning 44 days and consisting of 59 matches.
, The Cheers News