On Thursday, all eight Indian Premier League teams were given the opportunity to retain up to three players from last year’s squads. The Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals all opted to retain at least one player, in what is the first indication of team rosters for the upcoming season.
After serving a two year suspension for the alleged involvement of their owners in match fixing, the Super Kings are back in 2018, and have retained three important players from their last season in what were relatively unsurprising selections. Captain MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja will all once again suit up for Chennai in 2018. Ravichandran Aswhin and Dwayne Bravo have both been important part of the franchise’s past success, but the Super Kings opted not to pursue these players.
The Daredevils chose to follow a youth strategy by retaining young stars Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer. South African all-rounder Chris Morris was the third retention in a relatively predictable Player Retention. The Daredevils have, however, made a change to their coaching personnel, appointing former Australian captain Ricky Ponting as head coach.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore are the third of four teams to have retained the maximum of three players in this process. In what was a relative no-brainer, they chose to keep two of the best players in the world in Virat Kohl and AB de Villiers on their list. The third player was Sarfaraz Khan, somewhat of a surprise selection given they also had the option of retaining Chris Gayle. Instead, they sent the big West Indian to the auction pool, and did the same to star young leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
After winning the tournament last year, it is not surprising that the Mumbai Indians could find three players they wished to retain for this year’s edition of the tournament. Captain Rohit Sharma was an easy selection, and Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah will also be back in the blue and gold. These were tough decisions for the Indians, who had a plethora of good players to choose from. Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh are the franchise’s top two wicket takers in history, while Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, two of the Indians top three most successful batsmen in franchise history, were also not retained.
The Kolkata Knight Riders were one side which made some surprising selections on Thursday. They chose to keep just two players from last season, and went for West Indians Sunil Narine and Andre Russell. Neither of these picks is a major surprise, but the omission of their long-time captain Gautam Gambhir would certainly have shocked many. Likewise, Yusuf Pathan, who has been an impressive performer for them, was overlooked.
Last years fourth place finishers opted to retain two stars from last season. Explosive top order batsman David Warner, as well as wily paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar, will stay with the season in 2018. Both of whom were cited by team mentor VVS Laxman as ‘impact players who can take the team forward’. The Sunrisers chose not retain Shikhar Drawn, who has for a long time been a staple of their top order.
Kings XI Punjab, who are so far yet to taste the ultimate success in the IPL, appear headed for a significant change in their batting lineup after opting not to retain any of Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, or David Miller. They kept just one player from last season during this phase of the player retention process, retaining left-arm spinner Axar Patel for 2018.
The Royals will, along with the Super Kings, return in 2018 after a two year suspension for alleged involvement in corruption. The inaugural winners of the IPL will retain just one player, though in Steve Smith it is a relatively handy one. The Royals’ Australian representation seems set to dwindle overall though, after they chose not to retain Smith’s countrymen in Shane Watson and James Faulkner.
Teams still have the option to retain more players, as the entire retention process is split into two stages. The first of these is the Player Retention, which took place on Thursday and saw all eight teams retain up to three players of their own choosing. The second phase is called the Right to Match, and takes place in late January after the IPL auction. As the name suggests, this phase allows teams to match the price offered for their previous players by other teams in the auction.
For example, if Gautam Gambhir was snapped up in the auction for 12 crore, his previous team in the Kolkata Knight Riders would have the ability to match this offer, and subsequently retain him on their roster. Teams can retain up to five players in total in this two stage process; so for the Daredevils, who retained three players in the Player Retention phase, they can only opt to match the price of two more players in the Right to Match phase, while the Royals could match the price of up to four players, given they only retained one initially.
The player retention phase is an exciting signal that the IPL 2018 season is near. In less than three months, many of the world’s best will fight it out for IPL glory, and hopefully, the anticipation is matched by the quality of cricket and excitement in this edition.