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No top all-rounder in Team Mumbai

While Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) may have had big plans in its boardroom their bidding for players at the auction on Wednesday seemed quite a disappointment.

On the all-important day when players were recruited for the much-talked about IPL, Mumbai failed to bid successfully for any of the world’s best all-rounders while the likes of Jacques Kallis, Andrew Symonds and Irfan Pathan were bought for whopping sums by teams from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mohali.

If that wasn’t enough, Mumbai also lost out on the young and talented Rohit Sharma who belongs to the city. Sharma’s reserve price was US$150,000 and the 20-year-old cricketer was eventually sold at a whopping US$750,000 to Team Hyderabad.

Sources in Reliance had clearly indicated before the auction that they would be keen on having Sharma in their squad. His loss, therefore, was definitely seen as a blow for Mumbai.

There were a few positives for Mumbai though. It has a left-right opening combination which is as devastating as it can get.

Sachin Tendulkar, the city’s iconic cricketer, will have none other than Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya opening with him when Team Mumbai take the field.

The auction of close to 78 players took place in the city on Wednesday and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) — the franchise owners for Team Mumbai — rode on Tendulkar’s advice before bidding for their share of players.

Mumbai won the bids for Harbhajan Singh, Robin Utthappa, Shaun Pollock, Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando — apart from Jayasuriya — who will take the field for Team Mumbai when the tournament begins on April 18.

Tendulkar, currently in Australia, was expected to guide Reliance through the bidding process, especially after the company’s chairman Mukesh Ambani had personally called him for cricketing advice.

Reliance sources later told The Indian Express that “Sachin had expressed particular interest in having Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds in the team”.

While Mumbai succeeded in buying Harbhajan — for an extraordinary price of US$850,000 as compared to his base price of US$250,000, — they lost out on Symonds who went for a whopping US$1,350,000 (1.35m) to Hyderabad.

While the city can now boast of the likes of Jayasuriya, aggressive batsmen Utthappa and competent fast bowler Malinga in their Twenty20 squad, Reliance, it can be said, failed to acquire the best in the business who were also available.

Mumbai also failed to acquire any of the other young Indian cricketers — part of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India team — who were available. Players like Ishant Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Suresh Raina, RP Singh and S Sreesanth were bought by teams from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mohali.

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