We are just a few days away from the resumption of IPL 2021 in United Arab Emirates. After an exciting first phase of the season in India few months back, it will be really intriguing to see how things unfold after the unprecedented break. While the focus of all the players will solely be on this season, one cannot ignore the fact that there are mega auctions lined up before the start of next season, which would mean that few big names might be playing their last-ever season with their current franchise.
There are reports that teams will be allowed to retain a maximum of only three players, which is indeed going to make it very challenging for the think-tank. While players like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are certain to be retained by their franchises, there might be few star players who will be released to the auction pool. Let us have a look at three of those players:
1. Kedar Jadhav
The right-handed batsman is a seasoned campaigner in IPL, having played for different franchises like Delhi Capitals, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kedar Jadhav was bought by the Orange Army in IPL 2021 auctions for INR 2 crore. However, the move hasn't reaped benefits for the franchise.
The 36-year-old could only score 40 runs in 4 matches in first half of the season in India and unless something dramatic happens in UAE, it is very likely that SRH would part ways with the batsman after the conclusion of this season. With still some years of cricket left in Jadhav, the right-handed batsman will need to find a new home once again next year.
2. Harbhajan Singh
The veteran off-spinner has had a fairly successful IPL career, having taken 150 wickets in 163 matches in the tournament. Having played for Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in past, it looked that Harbhajan Singh would hang up his boots. However, in a sensation turn of events, he was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021 auctions.
The 41-year-old played only three matches for franchise in first half of the season and did not make much of an impact. With Varun Chakravarthy, Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine already in the side, Harbhajan will find it tough to get too many games in UAE as well. Going ahead, KKR will most likely release him ahead of mega auctions and it would be interesting to see if the off-spinner retires after this season or gets a new home in IPL 2022.
3. Chris Gayle
The Universe Boss has undoubtedly been one of the biggest players in history of IPL over the years. Having played for various different franchises like Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings, Chris Gayle has been the fan-favourite wherever he has played. With no teams looking to buy him in IPL 2018 auctions, the Jamaican cricketer got another lifeline in the tournament when Punjab Kings bought him for INR 2 crore.
The left-handed explosive batsman has since scored 1324 runs in 39 appearances for the franchise so far. However, with a mega auction scheduled before next season, it is very unlikely that the 41-year-old will be retained by the franchise. Will this be his last year in IPL? No one knows. However, it is quite certain that this would be his last year at Punjab Kings with the side looking for a squad overhaul next year.