Gambhir tops the list of money bags

Bangalore, Jan 8 (IANS) The Indian Premier League kicked off to a roaring start in Bangalore three years ago with New Zealand opener Brendon McCullum’s blitzkrieg of 158 runs for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the inaugural match against the hosts Royal Challengers.

Now three years later, KKR have found another in-form home-bred opening batsman Gautam Gambhir to lead their charge in the fourth edition. He might even lead the side with Sourav Ganguly out of KKR’s scheme of things.

KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan, though not present at the auction venue ITC Royal Gardenia, was clearly determined to get the Delhiite, touted as future India captain, whatever be the cost.

Gambhir was the first of the 350 cricketers to go under the hammer at the two-day auction and the ten bidders comprising the likes of Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan, liquor baron Vijay Mallya, billionaire Mukesh Ambani and the glamorous Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty were all interested in him but not all could jump into the fray.

The bidding reached dizzy heights, like the IPL inaugural ceremony and the match at Chinnaswamy Stadium in April 2008.

Many cricket commentators had bet on Yusuf Pathan, a big hitter and a useful bowler, as the most sought after player at the auction where the bidders combined purse is $75 million.

Gautam beat Yusuf to second place and the two led a host of Indians who fetched more money than any big names from overseas on the first day of the auction.