South Asia

IPL cricket auction breaks record

IPL Commissioner Chirayu Amin, centre, with team owners Ness Wadia, left, and Vijay Mallya at a press conference at the end of the player auction in Bangalore on 9 January 2011
Image caption The auction was held over the weekend

Fifty-five players have been sold on the second and final day of the auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world's richest cricket tournament.

Teams spent a total of $62.8m (£40m) over the weekend to buy 127 players. Some 350 players were up for grabs.

Indian test batsman Gautam Gambhir became the most expensive player in the history, fetching $2.4m.

But big names, including former India captain Sourav Ganguly and West Indies batting great Brian Lara, went unsold.

There were also no takers for veteran Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, Chris Gayle, Mark Boucher and Graeme Swann.

This will be the Twenty20 tournament's fourth season and its organisers are trying to improve its image, which has been tainted by corruption allegations.

IPL founder Lalit Modi was last year thrown out by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the sport's governing body, over claims of wrongdoing, which he denies.

The BCCI also expelled two teams, the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, for not declaring changes to their ownership structures, but they successfully challenged the ruling in court and were reinstated.

Two new teams - Kochi and Pune Warriors - have joined the league, which will start just six days after the end of the World Cup co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The player auction was held at a luxury hotel in Bangalore on Saturday and Sunday and was attended by some of India's richest business people and most famous film stars, as well as their advisers.

Gambhir was the first player sold on Saturday, to the Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.4m.

Some top cricketers have opted out of the IPL this year, including Australia's Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson. No Pakistan's players were included in this weekend's auction.

The 2011 IPL season starts on 8 April and concludes on 28 May.

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