Kieron Pollard, Mumbai Indians, $2.75 mn; Shane Bond, Kolkata Knight Riders, $1.3 mn; Bharat Mundra, Lions of Punjab, $20 mn
Bharat Mundra who?
As cricket fans tracked the latest round of auctions for Lalit Modi’s million-dollar baby last month, college stars Bharat and Nikhil Singh quietly pocketed $20 mn apiece in fictitious cash for the parallel IIM Calcutta Premier League.
Six teams — Lions of Punjab, Delhi Dazzlers, Mumbai Maximum, Hyderabad Blues, Chennai Quick Guns and Kolkata Tigers — have since been battling it out for the top prize in cricket’s most lucrative T20 league yet, on paper.
“Cricket at IIM used to be an inter-hostel affair. We decided to take the contest beyond hostel solidarity by introducing an intra-college league with imaginary cash thrown in,” said Mohit Handa, the sports secretary of IIM Calcutta.
Six designated captains were handed a mock kitty of $100 mn each to buy teams and players during the auction on January 7. The highest team bid was for Mumbai Maximum at $18 mn, followed by Lions of Punjab at $17 mn and Hyderabad Blues at $12 mn.
A 20 per cent discount was offered on teams bidding for players from their region. “The idea was to give the league a regional spin to hostel rivalry. If we have regional teams and players hailing from those parts in the squad, the competition would automatically go beyond who is from which hostel,” explained Handa.
Apart from Bharat and Nikhil, Suneet Bhatia of Chennai Quick Guns attracted an eye-popping bid of $19 mn.
Students watching the matches described the night ties, held between 6 and 10pm, as intense. The top two teams in the round-robin league will clash in the final on Friday.
In true IIM tradition, plans are being made for Season II even as the inaugural edition is underway. “We intend approaching IIM alumni to buy and sponsor the teams,” said Handa, turning out for the Delhi Dazzlers.
What about real cash for the players? “We don’t know about that but we hope to make Season II a more IPL-like affair,” said an organiser.