While cricket fans around the world are waiting with bated breath for Phase 2 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials are already planning for the mega-auction set to be held later this year. It's an exciting time for the fans but at the same time franchises need to be on point with their planning since a lot of players are available at the pool with a cap on the number of players that can be retained. And now it is being learned that ahead of the big auction in December 2021, the new retention policy will allow a maximum of four players in the team. These players can be kept only in two conditions - either two overseas and two domestic players or three domestic and one overseas cricketer.
Moreover, the franchises would deduct the salaries of four players from their purse before they enter the auctions. In addition, the BCCI is also reportedly set to increase the purse from INR 85 crore to 90 crore with the addition of two new teams from next year. Given the changes in the policy, here is a look at the possible players that the franchises would look to retain ahead of the mega auction.
1. Chennai Super Kings
For all the talks about Mahendra Singh Dhoni's future with Chennai Super Kings, this could well be his last year in the IPL. While he had already announced his international retirement last year having played his last game in 2019, he continued leading CSK in the 2020 as well as the 2021 edition of the tournament. Although he might still have plenty to contribute with the gloves and with his cricketing brain, he has looked a pale shadow of himself with the bat and that could well have an impact on the franchise and Dhoni's mutual decision. Moreover, MSD has always been vocal about building a team for the future and may not want to interfere in the mega auctions.
In his absence, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ruturaj Gaikwad could be the domestic cricketers who could be retained along with Sam Curran. While Curran and Gaikwad are being looked at as potentially bigger match winners in the future, Raina and Jadeja will be the experienced campaigners.
2. Delhi Capitals
It will be a tough call for the Delhi Capitals squad who have been one of the more consistent sides in recent years. However, given that the new owners have always backed the future stars, the four players who can be retained from their franchise are Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Kagiso Rabada and Prithvi Shaw. While Pant, Iyer and Shaw will fulfil the three Indian players criteria, Rabada who has been their spearhead bowler in recent years is likely to get a nod for retention as their only overseas pick.
3. Kolkata Knight Riders
It could be curtains for Dinesh Karthik's career with the Kolkata Knight Riders. This is not purely because of his form but the franchise may not be looking at a long term commitment with him anymore. He could well be bid for at the auctions but is likely to lose the retention race to Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Nitish Rana. Shubman Gill has also been rated highly by the franchise think-tank but his poor form and debate over his T20 strike rate in his career so far could work against him.
4. Mumbai Indians
Tough call for the Mumbai Indians to make who have done a commendable job of putting up a champion side together. Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah might well be the automated retention picks for the franchise but they could have a nightmare to decide whether to go for Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan who have credited their success to their stint with the franchise or Hardik Pandya who is yet again a talent spotted and nurtured by the Mumbai Indians management. Hardik seems to be clinching the race at the moment with Kieron Pollard set to be the overseas star player they would look to keep with them. Make no mistake, the ones who miss out will be on their radar in the auction room.
5. Punjab Kings
Punjab Kings might not be able to retain Universe Boss Chris Gayle. While he hasn't done too much wrong in the opportunities that he has got despite not getting a place in preferred opening slot, Gayle may not be considered simply because the team would want to build a pool of players they would like to stick around with. KL Rahul as the captain is likely to get a nod along with Mayank Agarwal. The duo has also been the consistent performers for the side in the recent past. Nicholas Pooran has vowed to comeback stronger after a horror run in initial part of IPL 2021 and given that he is such a highly rated limited overs performer and has age on his side, the franchise may want to retain him along with sticking with an experienced domestic pacer in Mohammed Shami.
6. Rajasthan Royals
It would be interesting to see who Rajasthan Royals decide to keep in their team before heading into the auctions. While Sanju Samson is likely to be retained given that he is the captain and has stayed with the setup for a long time, the real dilemma for the team would be to decide who among the overseas stars to keep in the team. Jofra Archer seems to be a certainty given that he recovers from his fitness concerns and Ben Stokes could be the other overseas pick simply because of the three-dimensional ability that he brings to the table. Will they go ahead with a young Chetan Sakariya as their final retention or trust somebody else? Backing Sakariya to make the cut although it might also depend on his performances against Sri Lanka and the remainder of IPL.
7. Royal Challengers Bangalore
Don't think it should be too difficult for Royal Challengers Bangalore to pick their four retentions until and unless the players themselves want to go under the hammer. While Virat Kohli will certainly be retained as the captain and a batsman, so will be AB de Villiers who has been a genius even after he has announced his retirement from international cricket. Glenn Maxwell will likely be the second overseas pick and three are set to make a crux of the new look team with Yuzvendra Chahal expected to be their fourth and final retention.
8. SunRisers Hyderabad
When David Warner was left out of the Sunrisers Hyderabad playing XI, it may have been a sign of things to come. Given that the franchise can only pick two overseas stars, they may be tempted to go ahead with Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan. Even if Warner remains in their plans either of him or Williamson is likely go under the hammer. Bhuvi could be their third retention along with T Natarajan. More clarity on how their management is thinking will be there once IPL 2021 resumes in UAE.