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SRK emerges shrewdest bidder

Last updated on: February 20, 2008 19:19 IST

Bollywood king Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the Kolkata franchise, emerged the smartest bidder at the end of three rounds in the Indian Premier League players' auction on Wednesday.

Apart from iconic player and likely captain Sourav Ganguly, Kolkata now has Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akthar, Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, arguably the best batsman in the world today, and Kiwi 'keeper Brendum McCullum, a buccaneering lower-order bat.

And, hold your breath, 'King Khan' has assemble a solid core at a mere $US 2.3m (1.525 million for the three foreigners in addition to $800,000 for Ganguly, if McCullum remains his costliest buy).

Chennai is the other dominant force, having bagged Australia's Matthew Hayden and Kiwi all-rounder Jacob Oram.

The burly duo lightened the India Cements wallet by $1.05 million. The team now has a more-than-competent core of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Muthiah Muralitharan, Hayden and Oram and yet has spent only US $2.25 million.

Compared to Kolkata and Chennai, Mukesh Ambani's Mumbai, which did not bring out its wallet in the third round, has already spent just under $3 million and has two players -- Sanath Jayasuriya and Harbhajan Singh -- for 1.85 million. Sachin Tendulkar will have to be paid at least 1.12 million if Jayasurya remains the highest priced player.

Among other teams, Delhi, owned by the GMR Group, made its first buy with a modest $625,000 for an equally modest Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori.

Hyderabad, owned by Deccan Chronicle, flexed some muscle in the third round by snapping up the world's most influential player in the shorter forms of the game, Andrew Symonds, for what is seen at a well-deserved $1.35m. It also won Adam Gilchrist in an earlier round for $700,000.

Quietly rivaling the might of Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai is the Preity Zinta-Ness Wadia-owned Mohali, which picked Aussie pace spearhead Brett Lee for close to a million. The team now has the most balanced -- as opposed to a dominant/explosive Chennai/Kolkata -- team on paper.

Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, his deputy Kumar Sangakkara, Brett Lee and iconic player Yuvraj Singh are capable of polishing off any national team with little effort.

This core cost the actor-entrepreneur duo $3 million (2.05m for the three foreigners and 1m for Yuvraj, if Lee remains the most expensive buy).

Vijay Mallya's Bangalore remains a sleeping giant, with just one buy -- Anil Kumble -- apart from iconic player Rahul Dravid.

Jaipur still has only Shane Warne, which it surprisingly bought at his base price.

Also, at the end of the third round, Michael Hussey became the second Aussie after Glenn McGrath to face the embarrassment of being relegated to the reserve pool. The lower-order batsman known for his finishing skills, found no takers even at an ultra-light base price of $250,000.

Krishnakumar P in Mumbai