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News Analysis

Breaking down the WPL auction - Who bid the most money? Which city got the most bids?

What was the difference between the highest and lowest bids? All that and more

Nagraj Gollapudi
On Wednesday, the BCCI opened the winning bids for the five franchises in the Women's Premier League, set to be played in March. Sixteen business entities, including the owners of seven IPL franchises, placed a total of 84 bids to pick one of the ten cities on offer. The bids were for a period of ten years. ESPNcricinfo has accessed the spreadsheet comprising all the bids, including the five successful ones. The following are the key takeaways.

Adani Sportsline placed the highest bid for five cities

Adani Sportsline Private Limited, a subsidiary of Adani Group which is owned by one of the richest persons in the world, Gautam Adani, placed the highest bids for five cities: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Guwahati and Kolkata. All the bids were of the same amount: INR 1289 crore (USD 158 million approx), the highest in the entire auction. As per the rules set by the BCCI, if an entity raised the highest bid for more than one city, it could pick its preferred city.
Adani Sportsline picked Ahmedabad, which houses Narendra Modi Stadium, the world's largest cricket stadium with a capacity of 132,000. Ahmedabad, which attracted half a dozen bids, is also the home to the Adani Group.
The Ahmedabad WPL franchise, which was unveiled immediately after the auction as Gujarat Giants, will be sharing the Motera stadium with defending IPL champions Gujarat Titans. In 2021, CVC Capital Partners (Irelia Company Pte Ltd), a global fund management company, bought the Titans franchise for INR 5625 crore, making it the second-most expensive franchise in the IPL. In fact, CVC Capital had outbid Adani Sportsline which had bid INR 5100 crore.

Bengaluru and Chennai the most-bid cities

Bengaluru and Chennai, the homes to two of the most popular teams in the IPL, attracted the most bids: 12. And if your guess for the third spot in the same category is another big Indian metro, you are wrong. It was the central Indian city of Indore which came in next with 11 bids. Those were the only three cities with double-digit bids, followed by Kolkata with nine. Mumbai had the least number of bids at four.

The INR 1000-plus crore gulf between highest and lowest bids

In 2008, the Rajasthan Royals owners, paid $67 million (for ten years) to win the Jaipur franchise in the IPL. It was the least expensive franchise among the original eight. Royals' owners were feted for their Moneyball approach, which was a highlight of their fairy-tale triumph in the inaugural season under the captaincy of Shane Warne. Fifteen years on, Royals' owners have not changed tack: theirs was the lowest bids for the WPL franchises as well. Royal Multisport Private Limited, the current owners of Royals, placed three bids: INR 176 crore (Indore), INR 178 crore (Dharamsala) and INR 180 crore (Guwahati). The difference between the lowest bid (Royals' INR 176 crore for Indore) and the highest bid (Adani Sportsline's INR 1289 crore for five cities was a staggering INR 1113 crore.

Mumbai owners' quirky strategy

If evaluating how much to bid is not in itself a head-spinning exercise, the strategy adopted by Indiawin Sports Private Limited, the company that owns five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians, took it to another level. Mumbai Indians, which were represented at the auction by their owner Aakash Ambani, placed bids on eight cities. What attracted attention though was each bid was separated by INR 0.03 crores: for Guwahati the bid was INR 912.78 crores, for Indore it was INR 912.81 crore, for Lucknow INR 912.84 crore, Kolkata INR 912.87 crore, Chennai INR 912.90 crore, Bengaluru INR 912.93 crore, Delhi INR 912.96 crore, followed by INR 912.99 crore for their home base Mumbai. Eventually, they picked Mumbai as their preferred choice.

KKR aggressive but return empty-handed

Kolkata Knight Riders have been among the most valuable IPL franchises - in addition to having a massive fan following, it is co-owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Knight Riders Sports Private Limited, which owns the Knight Riders franchises globally, was the only bidder at the WPL auction to bid for all ten cities. But they failed to secure a franchise this time, bidding the same amount - INR 666 crore - for each city.
Royal Challengers Sports Private Limited, which owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise, placed the joint-lowest number of bids - two - along with Yadu International Limited, one of the nine non-IPL-owners bidders. While Yadu bid for Delhi (INR 305 crore) and Indore (INR 301 crore), Royal Challengers bid for Kolkata (INR 691 crore) and Bengaluru (INR 901 crore), which was their eventual choice.
Those who bid for multiple cities included 360 Slingshot Sports Ventures Private Limited (9 cities), Indiawin Sports and KPH Dream Private Limited, who own Punjab Kings in IPL (8 each), Capri Global Holdings Private Limited, which won the Lucknow franchise in WPL (7), Amrit Lila Enterprises Private Limited and APL Sports Private Limited (6 each), Adani Sports and JSW-GMR Cricket Pvt Ltd, owners of Delhi Capitals in the IPL (5 each), Oam Industries India Pvt Ltd - Haldiram's (4), Shriram Value Services Limited, Sun TV Network Limited, which owns Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL and Torrent Investments Private Limited (3 each).

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo