The coming auction for the next IPL season will be one of the biggest in the tournament’s history. Each side has been allotted INR 80 crores to build their team, with an increased salary cap.
Before the auction, each of the 8 franchises had to announce the number of players they wish to retain. A side was allowed to use a combination of retentions and Right To Match (RTM) cards to get upto 5 of their players back. The teams had to submit a list of players that they wished to retain, which was announced on 4th January.
So let’s take a look at the retentions.
The 2nd most successful IPL franchise was banned for two years and the first thing they had to do on their return was retain players who identified best with the Chennai Super Kings.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Dhoni has played all but 3 games the franchise has played. Known as Thala (Boss) in Chennai, the city is his second home and it made complete emotional sense to retain him for the connection he has with the side. But of late he has been a declining force in the T20 format, and it has to be seen if his retention was a smart one cricketing wise.
Raina has played all 156 games the franchise has been involved in, the only player to do so. He has been one of the best IPL batsmen and is a top scorer for the franchise. His retention makes sense given his value to the side as a batsman and in the field, plus the connect he has with the franchise.
Jadeja for me this was a bizarre pick because Jadeja has been a poor T20 player for a while now. He is nowhere in the picture to be picked for India in any limited overs format. His batting is suspect and let’s not forget he was dropped last season from the Gujarat Lions X1, a side which had one of the worst bowling attacks.
In their 10 seasons in the IPL the side has reached the playoffs twice, one of which was their only time they appeared in the final. The side has all the makings to build a proper team, but for some reason have failed.
Axar Patel is the only retention. He is a left arm spinner who has potential with the bat, a rare commodity in Indian cricket. By just retaining one player, the KXIP side is looking to build a new side from scratch at the auction. But questions can be asked for retaining Axar given that they could have used the RTM card to get him back.
The side had the option to retain an Indian captain in Ajinkya Rahane or an overseas captain in Steve Smith. They decided to go for the overseas option.
Steve Smith’s overall T20 average of 30.05 at 7.5 RPO does not jump out immediately at you - those are just above average T20 numbers. But there is more to him than just the numbers and that’s his captaincy, Steve Smith has won the BBL with Sydney Sixers and took Rising Pune SuperGiant to the final of the previous edition of the IPL. So he does have the skills to help the side, but at INR 12 crore, the question is not about his skill set but if that skill set is of value to a side, which has been prudent with their spending at the auctions.
Delhi Daredevils have never been in an IPL final - the only franchise to fail to do so. Even a temporary franchise like Rising Pune SuperGiant managed to reach the final, but Delhi hasn’t. They were one of the sides, which needed to build a team desperately. But instead, they spent 40% of their budget on 3 players.
Morris is a good value player and is one of the best all rounders in the world, so not a bad retention as such.
Rishabh has the potential, he is from Delhi. But do you want to spend a significant chunk of your budget on him?
Iyer has been renowned for scoring quick runs and he has shown that he can hit them big. But like Pant, the question remains is do you want to spend such a significant chunk of your budget when your main aim is to build a team?
I won’t waste time explaining why Kohli and ABdV are good players to retain for Royal Challengers Bangalore. They both are leading batsmen in world cricket.
Sarfraz though was the surprise retention, based more on potential since he hasn’t played for a year. Moreover, given the players RCB could have acquired through the RTM it makes t more surprising since now it gives them only two picks in the auction rather than three.
The 2016 IPL winners have retained their captain & top scorer David Warner, and their top wicket taker Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Warner has been one of the best batsmen in the IPL and has been one of the best captains as well. He has scored 30+ runs in 39 of the 59 times he has batted for the side which displays his consistency.
Kumar has been a wicket taking bowler for his side, conceding 7.25 RPO which is not bad given he bowls some of his overs in the death, his SR is what stands out - he picks a wicket eery 15.3 balls, which is absolute gold dust in T20 cricket.
The only side along with Rajasthan Royals to not retain any Indian players. Kolkata Knight Riders let go of their 2-time IPL winning captain, Gautam Gambhir. Many were surprised with this move, but given that he is 36 and does not have many playing years under him, it made sense for KKR to look into a new direction.
Narine is one of the best T20 players in the world. Along with his bowling Narine has developed himself as an opener who can score quick runs. Last year he averaged 15 runs at 9 runs per over, which may not be much but on his day he can be devastating with the bat. He now holds the record for the fastest IPL half century.
Russel has been out of cricket for a year due to a doping violation, but that has not deterred KKR in retaining him. For KKR he averages 27.66 at 10.66 RPO and has been the late order hitter who can win games for the side even when the equation is dire. He is also a very handy bowler - a bit on the expensive side as he concedes 8.07 RPO but he picks a wicket every 19 balls.
Now of all the sides, it was Mumbai Indians who lobbied for a franchise to have 5 players through a combination of retentions and RTM cards. Not surprising given the side boast some great T20 talent in the likes of Rohit Sharma, Keiron Pollard, Jos Buttler, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya & Krunal Pandya. Any combination of players picked would have made sense for the franchise but they decided to retain the Indian players.
Sharma has been MI’s top scorer and the 3rd highest scorer in the league and is the local boy as well. Not to forget that he is one of the most successful IPL captains having won 3 finals.
Pandya has had a rapid rise, from being picked for Australia in January 2016 to making his test debut within 2 years. It’s a dramatic elevation for an all rounder who seems like a player who is only suited to the limited overs format. But he has proven many wrong with his ever growing skill set, a skill set which is unique in Indian cricket, it just made good business sense for MI to retain him.
Bumrah, a day after his retention was announced he made his test debut for India in South Africa. Bumrah like Pandya was scouted by John Wright and was picked at the auction for close to nothing. Since his debut for Mumbai Indians in 2013 where his first wicket was Virat Kohli, he has come a long way. He is one of the best death bowlers in the world and has a really mean yorker in his armour. It was no surprise that MI decided to retain one of India’s best fast bowlers.
The retentions have served as an appetizer to the main event which will be the auctions, where each side will battle it out to find their best combination of players. I for one can’t wait for it to begin. 27th January can’t come any sooner.