Cricket, barons and Bollywood stars - its all happening in Goa

February 6th, 2009 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Shah Rukh KhanPanaji, Feb 6 (IANS) Considering the monies at stake, Goa’s famed five star facility, the Fort Aguada resort, could well be called Fort Knox for a day with millions of dollars at stake as film stars and industrialists outbid each other at the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) second players auction here Friday.The bidding extravaganza of the glitzy cricket league got off to a crackling start with England players Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen being sold for a whopping $1.55 million each to Chennai Super Kings and Bangalore Royal Challengers, respectively.

Dressed in a flaming red beach shirt, tycoon and Bangalore Royal Challengers owner Vijay Mallya strolled in looking sleepy from his majestic Kingfisher villa nearby into the bidding area, which was out of bounds for the media.

But by the time the first round of bidding was over, Mallya had the widest grin around. His Bangalore Royals, which was trashed by the competition last time, had picked up arguably the most sought after player this year — English all-rounder Pietersen.

Pietersen was the last cricketer to go under the hammer at the first round of auctioneering and that, according to the flamboyant industrialist, worked to his advantage.

“I would have preferred to pay more,” Mallya quipped at a post bidding press conference with high profile pointsman of the IPL Lalit Modi and N. Sreenivas of Chennai Super Kings.

“By the time we came to Pietersen, the others had already spent their money on the others. I was happy,” Mallya said. The liqour baron also said he was happy with his purchase and that Pietersen would improve the balance of his team, especially the batting aspect.

Sreenivas, however, was more circumspect, although he spent the same amount of money on the Yorkshire lad and stellar British all-rounder Flintoff.

“We were targeting him. We are glad we got Flintoff,” Sreenivas said.

Nearly an hour later, the portly businessmen accompanying Modi on the dais were replaced by svelte Bollywood stars Shilpa Shetty, who recently picked up a stake in the Rajasthan Royals, and Preity Zinta, representing the Kings XI Punjab.

Zinta’s prized buy in the third round of bidding was English all-rounder Ravi Bopara, who went for nearly $300,000 above his basic bidding price at $450,000.

Responding to questions from the media, Shilpa admitted that she was quite the novice as compared to her celluloid colleague Zinta, who is co-owner of the team with industrialist boyfriend Ness Wadia.

The other star presence was Juhi Chawla, who co-owns the Kolkata Knight Riders team with Shah Rukh Khan, and outbid Zinta to snap up Bangladesh fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza for a whopping $600,000 after an intense round of bidding, the longest IPL bid.

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