For a day, at least, India will turn a blind eye to the financial downturn when the bidding for the Indian Premier League's second season takes place in Goa on Friday, February 6.
The smashing success of the inaugural season's Twenty20 tournament
coupled with the ever-growing fans' interest worldwide has no doubt made the second season the most-keenly awaited event in the sports calendar.
Thus it comes as no surprise that England players and the rest of the world who missed out last year came running well ahead of time to file their nominations.
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The withdrawal of Pakistan players and the final nomination by the eight franchises has left just 43 players in the running for the high-profile auction, out of which only 17 will be picked by the eight franchises.
Quite a few teams will have to re-think their strategy for the auction after the Pakistan government barred its players from travelling to India for the IPL. The tight international schedule means not all international players will be available through the tournament. And more so, with just US$ 2 million in their kitty, the franchises will have to be very cautious about how high they go for a particular player.
Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings will be glad they did not pick any Pakistan player last season. However, a comforting factor for the other franchises is that they will be able to pick a replacement player from the ones who not selected in the auction on Friday. For the money paid to Pakistan players last year, that same amount will be available this time too to pick a replacement.
A look at the top picks at the auction:
Text: Harish Kotian | Photographs: Reuters