IPL seeks new begin with player auction

The Indian Premier League looks to recapture its lost shine this weekend with a player auction at which teams will bid big bucks to secure some of finest talent in world cricket .The annual IPL tournament revolutionised the sport when it burst onto the scene in 2008 with a high-octane combine of international star players, Twenty20 matches and Bollywood glamour. But its future looked gloomy last year after allegations of massive corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion, as well as secret deals to hide teams' real owners, and even links to India's criminal underworld.IPL founder Lalit Modi -- whose brash style personified the event -- was thrown out by the BCCI, the sport's governing body in India, over accusations about his conduct and organisers hope this year will be fresh start.

Former West Indies captain Brian Lara and England's Ashes hero James Anderson will be among those going under the hammer at the auction in Bangalore on Saturday and Sunday. They are among 21 cricketers with the highest reserve price of $400,000 for a three-year contract, with teams such as the Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians likely to force prices sky-high in a fierce bidding war. Other foreigners up for grabs include Australians Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee , England's Kevin Pietersen, South Africans Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, and New Zealand's Daniel Vettori.The tournament, to be held from April 8 to May 22, is expected to feature 10 teams after Indian courts upturned the exclusion of the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

The BCCI, as part of its attempt to improve transparency in the IPL, threw out both teams in October for not declaring changes in their ownership structures. The ensuing legal battle led to their likely return though no official declaration has yet been made. Two new teams have joined the league: Kochi, which have also been involved in a nasty ownership squabble, and the Pune Warriors.The players' auction was due to be held in November but was delayed amid uncertainty about the size and format of this year's tournament, which will start just six days after the end of the World Cup co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Twelve players have been retained by their original franchises, with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni staying with the Chennai Super Kings and Shane Warne and Shane Watson sticking with the Rajasthan Royals. Some top cricketers have opted out of the IPL's fourth edition, including the Australian trio of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson, and former India captain Anil Kumble. Other famous absentees include former Australian stars Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath. Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who signed for $1.55 million with the Chennai Super Kings in 2009, has retired. Pakistan's cricketers will continue to miss out on the IPL bonanza after none of them was included for the auction.


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