Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo
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Confusion of the timing of the IPL auction made Kieron Pollard miss the bidding war over him in Mumbai as four franchises placed maximum bids of $750,000, forcing the Trinidad allrounder's sale into a silent tiebreaker. After five silent but eventful minutes, Lalit Modi revealed that Mumbai Indians, the richest franchise owned by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, had secured Pollard's services for the 2010 season.
"I had finished my practice when the auction started but I got the timings wrong. But one of my [South Australian] team-mates told me about it," Pollard told Cricinfo from Adelaide, where he is representing the Redbacks in the Twenty20 Big Bash and will be one of main draws in the final on January 23.
For the moment he is "very happy, very excited" to have been bought by Mumbai and is looking forward to the opportunity to play with "Sachin Tendulkar and all the other guys in the League."
Pollard and New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond were the only two players bought via the tiebreaker and their final price was never revealed. That information was privy only to the franchise that placed the winning bid and the IPL. When asked whether he was curious how much Mumbai actually shelled out for him, Pollard said he was not sweating about that. "At the end of the day I'm a young player. Going by the cap price I am pretty excited. Whatever happened after that was not in my hands," Pollard said.
The IPL's decision to keep silent tiebreaker bids confidential has led to speculation that Pollard's worth is anywhere between $1 million and $2.5 million. Pollard, however, is not bothered about what amount Nita Ambani wrote on the cheque during the auction. "I am not really surprised by it [the price]. There has been a lot of talk that has been going but it doesn't matter what exactly transpired. I just want to come out and play."
Pollard is perhaps not fussed about whether he went for one million or two because he is already a millionaire. He was part of the most lucrative cricket match ever and raked in a million dollars after the Stanford Superstars beat England in a winner-takes-all contest in Antigua. But Pollard did not get lost in all those riches and has polished his trade with every subsequent tournament.
He is the only player to be involved in four Twenty20 championships in different continents. In addition to playing for his home side, Trinidad & Tobago, South Australia and now Mumbai, Pollard has also been signed by Somerset for their domestic Twenty20 campaign this summer in England.
There have been questions about whether Pollard is worth so much, considering he has never scored even a half-century in ten Twenty20 internationals. But he's been considered a tremendous talent in the West Indies ever since he started hitting towering sixes with a straight bat.
Pollard's abilities caught global attention during the Champions League Twenty20 in India last year because of immense performances against champion sides like New South Wales. He sported a funky hairstyle, hit the most sixes in the tournament, propelled T&T into the final and had desperate agents from various IPL franchises knocking on his door.
"A couple of franchises had spoken during the Champions League. But I was pretty tired and I hadn't spoken to [my] manager as well. So I wasn't sure what exactly and who exactly I was going to speak to at that time," Pollard said.
Incidentally, Pollard did not find any buyers at the 2009 IPL auction where his base price was 60,000$. A year later that figure was $200,000. Pollard, while not bitter about being ignored last year, admitted he was slightly hurt. "Obviously I was a bit disappointed. But there were some circumstances that I don't wish to disclose," he said. "I did not really allow that to affect my game because I knew I could always come the next year."
And he has, with the loudest of bangs. "Since the Champions League, life has changed," he said. "I've concentrated on my cricket and worked hard to get the best out of my abilities and it has been good." Though he has already tasted success in India, Pollard is wary of the expectations, which he says will pose the biggest challenge for him. "The biggest challenge would be to sustain what I've started as there would be big expectations of me. But cricket is a funny game, it can go anyway. I'm just going to go there and play my best."