Mallika Sagar India’s First Women Auctioneer in IPL 2024

Mallika Sagar first learned of auctioneering as a teenager after reading a novel in Mumbai with a female protagonist. She recalls with amusement thinking: “That is who I want to become!” Sagar stands at the forefront of history-making after three decades.

She will make history on Tuesday when she attends the Indian Premier League (IPL) Auction 2024 in Dubai, becoming the first female to auction at one of cricket’s richest franchise leagues.

At this day-long auction event, over 300 cricketers will come under the hammer – breaking with tradition by featuring not only men such as Richard Madley (Welsh), Hugh Edmeades (British), and India’s Charu Sharma – but women too.

Mallika Sagar spoke to Al Jazeera for one hour in Mumbai’s office last week about being selected to conduct an IPL Auction and her excitement over this opportunity. She stated:

Sagar hails from Maharashtra, the state capital of India. Since returning from studying art history at a University in America, she has lived back home.

She is a pioneer of art auctioning. Specialising in modern art, she was an auctioneer for a Mumbai-based private auction house.

She became the first woman of Indian descent to work as an auctioneer at Christie’s – international art and luxurious goods auction house.

All About Personality And Abilities

Sagar, dressed in a yellow drop waist dress and carrying a cup of green tea, explained that auctioneering was more about personal skill and character than gender.

Personality and skills play a big part here, whether that means becoming one of the most charismatic male auctioneers or one of the least entertaining female auctioneers.

Sagar will take over for Edmeades, who collapsed at Bengaluru during one of four IPL Auctions conducted between 2019 and 2022 by Edmeades.

Edmeades is widely recognized for introducing her to the Indian auctioneering scene. She relayed, “Hugh approached me about being his backup for the IPL 2021 Auction being held during quarantine and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

I am grateful to him for introducing me to Indian Cricket. A 48-year-old Indian national, she oversaw player auctions for India’s five-team Women’s Premier League franchise tournament modelled on IPL.

“Sport can often be perceived as gendered; being a part of something which gives women cricketers access to top levels while remaining financially independent was truly transformative.”

Sagar, one of India’s few female auctioneers, acknowledged that she may have used the WPL auction unknowingly as preparation for the IPL auction, which is much larger in scope.

Q/A With Sagar Mallika 

Learn The Ropes With Kabaddi

Sagar made his inaugural sports auctioneering appearance at the Pro Kabaddi League’s eighth edition. This Indian men’s professional franchise kabaddi league is second only to IPL regarding viewership.

After years of exploring various artistic pursuits, she realised sport auctioneering represented “an entirely new realm.” She noted that it took some training for her approach to be completely altered.

What Does It Take To Become An Effective Auctioneer?

Auctioneering requires knowledge of its mechanics and drama; you should combine this knowledge with mathematics and theatre depending on the product or service sold.

She noted that her time with PKL had given her valuable auction-eve experience. Despite all my previous sporting endeavours, my experience at the WPL auction was something altogether unique.

The size and complexity of the operation, along with hearing producer cues during live broadcasts, added another dimension to their task.

You Can’t Let Nervousness Control Your Work

Sagar describes an auction in real-time as “unknown.” Cricket provides an ideal example of this dynamic process, as there can often be last-minute microphone fixes or makeup touch-ups, frenetic bidding wars involving multiple parties, and even just figuring out the order in which franchises will be seated by draw.

Their unpredictability requires lots of focus and improvisation.

She advised, “To be effective and flexible.” Despite our best intentions, mistakes may still happen when calling out hundreds of names; misspelling even one letter could result in embarrassing errors; to correct such instances appropriately and move forward smoothly, acknowledge your error, apologise, correct it promptly, and move on as quickly as possible.

Be mindful that it is never wise to panic in any circumstance; do not allow your anxiety to overrun your work. Staying composed is an indispensable skill.

Sagar asserts that exercise and yoga will rekindle calmness and strength within both body and mind.

She jokes that downward-facing dog and headstand poses can fix anything; she takes time off on auction day to prevent feeling worn out the next morning.

She believes the key to running an effective auction is being as neutral as possible between players involved, regardless of status.

She stated, “It is essential to treat newcomers the same as established players. Sagar considers knowledge of his subject, such as player sets and orders of players, an absolute.

She advised: “Give each name the time and space it out evenly when reviewing bids, especially when there are several to go through.

After the excitement has subsided, take a few seconds and ask, “Is everyone certain?” If this is your last opportunity to bid on anything, you must consider all factors.

Are Preparations For IPL Different From WPL?

Sagar elaborates: “No. Because the basic formats are identical, staying safe and avoiding upstaging any one person or team’s reputation when performing on such an esteemed stage is critical – their moment in the limelight must be well-spent.

Sagar will have her moment of glory on Tuesday as she reels 300 names.

10 Interesting Things About Mallika Sagar

1.) Al Jazeera reports that Mallika Sagar is an art auctioneer with 23 years of experience working at an auction house based in Mumbai.

2.) She oversaw auctions of the Women’s Premier League.

3.) Mallika Sagar was the first Female auctioneer of IPL 2024, an international art and luxurious business. Her specialisation lies within modern art.

4.) Sagar first discovered auctioneering as a teenager when she read a novel featuring a female protagonist as its subject matter. Sagar told Al Jazeera: “That is exactly what I want to become!”

5.) She was born into a business family in Mumbai and later studied art history in the US before returning home.

6.) Mallika Sagar revealed to Al Jazeera that Hugh Edmeades, a former IPL auctioneer, had introduced her to Indian sports auctions. Edmeades conducted IPL auctions from 2019-2022 before collapsing during one event.

7.) She told the publication, “Hugh approached me about being his backup during the IPL 2021 Auction held during quarantine at Covid Pandemic Hospital. I am extremely thankful to him for introducing me to Indian Cricket.”

8.) Mallika Sagar made her first sporting auctioneering appearance during Pro Kabaddi League’s eighth edition.

9.) She told Al Jazeera that sports auctioneering was “an unfamiliar world” due to her long standing association with art auctioning. However, training helped to change her approach completely.

10. ) In a recent publication interview, Mallika Sagar said that IPL2024 Auctions are no different from the WPL. She stated that the basic formats are the same. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with names. You do not want to ruin anyone’s reputation. This is especially true when the person appears on a platform of such prestige. After all, it’s their moment of glory.


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