Over the past few days, the excitement for the Indian Premier League (IPL) retentions has hit a fever pitch. So much so that it has occupied the thinking of every Indian cricket fan, despite the national team locking horns with New Zealand in a titanic Test series.
The mega auction before the 2022 edition means that there will be plenty of changes come the season proper. Thus, when IPL outfits were given a deadline to chalk down the players they had retained till the 30th of November, almost everyone wanted to know where their favourite players would end up and how their favourite sides would shape up.
As always, there were several decisions that left fans astonished — some revolved around a few players not being retained, while there were also moans and groans around the players who were actually retained.
Hence, as everybody starts regaining their breath and making sense of the reality that lies ahead, the time seems ripe to delve into a deeper analysis of where these IPL teams floundered and the decisions they got right. And, of course, predict what these franchises might look to do when the auction rolls in.
(Note: The player names are in the order of them being retained)
Chennai Super Kings retentions: Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad
What did they do right: CSK have always banked on a strong and sustainable group of players. From that standpoint, each of their retentions has enough experience in the IPL and are genuine game-changers. MS Dhoni, irrespective of when he retires, was always going to be retained. Gaikwad and Jadeja are the future and the present (respectively) of the franchise.
The only quandary would’ve been around whether to retain Faf du Plessis or Moeen. But with the IPL slated (hopefully) to take place in India henceforth, a spin-bowling all-rounder covers more bases than an opening batter.
What did they get wrong: This could be a little controversial but the retention of Dhoni is perhaps the only decision that falls under this bracket. The former Indian skipper might not play too many seasons of the IPL. Hence, CSK (in the long term) might’ve been better served tying down someone like Deepak Chahar or Shardul Thakur.
Having said that, Dhoni the character is certainly worth more than Dhoni the cricketer. And, if any individual or team can make this arrangement work, it is Dhoni and CSK.
What they might do at the auction: CSK have a knack of getting the most out of the players at their disposal. At times, their side hasn’t looked as strong on paper. But they’ve almost always found ways to offset it.
By that yardstick, they might look to buy back players that helped them win the 2018 and 2021 IPL titles. Don’t be too surprised if the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Josh Hazlewood, Sam Curran and Shardul Thakur don the yellow again.
Delhi Capitals retentions: Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Prithvi Shaw, Anrich Nortje
What did they do right: In the past few IPL seasons, the Delhi Capitals have cast themselves as a strong outfit. Much of their success has depended on an excellent core of Indian players – something that they’ve been able to maintain post the retentions too.
Rishabh Pant, despite blowing hot and cold lately, is a bona fide match-winner. And, as he proved in IPL 2021, isn’t a bad captain either. Axar Patel is starting to fulfill his promise on the international stage and can only get better. Prithvi Shaw, on the other hand, has the talent to become one of the best T20 openers on the planet.
Anrich Nortje, too, has held his own in the past couple of seasons. With his performances taking a turn for the better this year, it makes perfect sense to stick with him. After all, there is no substitute for raw pace.
What did they get wrong: Not a lot, to be completely honest. The only conundrum they would’ve brooded over might’ve been Shreyas Iyer’s role in the side. However, with DC being clear that Pant was going to be their captain moving forward, Iyer – the batter wasn’t as appealing.
Similarly, Nortje seems to have nudged ahead of Kagiso Rabada in the pecking order. That, coupled with the galaxy of Indian stars in their ranks, means that they can’t be faulted for this decision either.
What they might do at the auction: DC might look to get Marcus Stoinis back at the auction, considering the balance he lends to the squad. And, of course, try to prize Avesh Khan back into their squad.
They might also be on the hunt for Indian middle order batters. They have usually wanted to have a good overseas fast bowling unit, with Indians dominating the batting. It would be very surprising if they adopt a different tack this time round.
Kolkata Knight Riders retentions: Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer, Sunil Narine
What did they do right: Getting hold of Varun Chakravarthy and Venkatesh Iyer. Over the years, the auction has proved that all-rounders and mystery spinners command huge fees. Thus, KKR have done well to re-acquire the duo. The fact that they’re Indian and can be consistent performers throughout a season only adds to their stock.
What did they get wrong: On paper, Narine and Russell are still players every team might want in their squad. Both, though, have been ravaged by injuries lately and there is no guarantee how long they will be able to live up to their reputation. Russell, in particular, has endured two successive indifferent IPL campaigns.
From that standpoint, it seems KKR might’ve been better off buying them at the auction rather than retaining them ahead of someone like Shubman Gill, who has a very high ceiling and was already part of their leadership group in 2021.
What they might do at the auction: They need a captain so that might be at the top of their wish list. There might be a temptation to go back to Eoin Morgan. But if his batting form resembles what it was in the 2021 iteration, they might look at other alternatives.
They will also need Indian top-order batting options, considering Narine, Russell and Venkatesh are all-rounders and the West Indian duo, when fit, will take up two overseas slots. Rahul Tripathi could be someone they try to rope in again.
In an ideal world, they would also want to bring Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna and Shivam Mavi on board. However, their recent run-ins with injuries and patchy form could mean that only one (or maybe two) of them find themselves at KKR again.
Mumbai Indians retentions: Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard
What did they do right: Retaining the players that have made MI the IPL dynasty they are. Each of their retentions are exceptional players and cricketers well-versed with what makes the franchise tick. To add to that, all of them (barring injuries) should be available to play the entire season of any IPL edition.
Additionally, they didn’t give in to the temptation of procuring Hardik Pandya on an exorbitant contract. He remains capable of being a world-class all-rounder but his fitness has become too much of a variable lately.
What did they get wrong: It is very hard to pin-point because MI had a problem of plenty – something most franchises didn’t have. The only bit that might be confusing is their refusal to opt for Ishan Kishan – someone who has a bright future and has been a fabulous performer for Mumbai.
What they might do at the auction: Try everything in their power to get Ishan Kishan back in the mix (provided he enters the auction). They might also fancy their chances of bringing back Trent Boult and might target someone like Shardul Thakur at the auction, considering the batting depth he adds.
They might also be closely monitoring power-hitting all-rounders because, well, Pollard can’t play forever, can he?
Punjab Kings retentions: Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh
What did they do right: The Punjab Kings are the team to have retained the least number of players. That, though, is something that has been synonymous with the franchise over the years.
In Arshdeep, they have a pacer who can become a household name. The fact that he is a left-arm pacer and boasts decent experience in the IPL should hold PBKS in good stead.
With respect to Mayank, Punjab could’ve bought him at the auction for a much lower price. Yet, with Mayank, the sky seems to be limit, at least as far as his talent is concerned. He has also led Karnataka in domestic cricket previously and seems the right person to lead PBKS into promised land.
If it works out or not is another matter altogether. But this punt on Mayank shouldn’t be as surprising as it is being made out to be.
What did they get wrong: In a utopian world, no team would’ve wanted KL Rahul to leave. Yet, PBKS have allowed that situation to materialise. It might not be entirely be their fault but the fact that it has come about is, in some part, down to them as well.
They could’ve also tied down Mohammed Shami to a contract, considering Indian pacers are usually in demand at the auction. A bit more confidence in someone like Shahrukh Khan (earlier in the IPL) wouldn’t have hampered their pursuit either.
What they might do at the auction: They need a new core, first of all. They might also want to spread the batting burden and get more batters capable of performing that sort of role. It might not be beyond the realms of possibility if the Punjab Kings pull out all the stops to acquire Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone (if they are a part of the auction) or players of a similar ilk.
One thing is for sure though. The Punjab Kings will have another busy IPL auction.
Rajasthan Royals retentions: Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal
What did they do right: Well, getting Buttler back was a pretty astute move – not that it takes rocket science to decipher what he brings to the table. Samson has also portrayed glimpses that he is en route to becoming the batter he has always been touted to be.
Jaiswal, meanwhile, is a bit of a risk. But seeing how he approached the 2021 edition, it might not be a bad choice. Plus, he has time on his hands to develop into a top-drawer opening batter. Not splashing more cash on Chris Morris also seems a wise decision.
What did they get wrong: RR simply needed to find a way to get one of Jofra Archer, Livingstone or Stokes back into the fold. They didn’t. They could also have gambled on Kartik Tyagi, considering the poise he has already shown. Chetan Sakariya, though, is a really surprising omission and RR might find it tough to recruit him at the auction.
What they might do at the auction: Firstly, they might not want to over-pay on players. RR have developed an uncanny knack of doing so and have suffered, with other areas of their squad seeming undercooked. This time, they might go back to purchasing players that suit their style of play.
They would love to have one of Archer, Livingstone or Stokes in the mix, although that seems a touch difficult. Don’t be surprised if they bid big for a frontline Indian seamer (read Bhuvneshwar or Shami) as well.
Royal Challengers Bangalore retentions: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj
What did they do right: RCB and Virat Kohli have been associated for so long that this became a no-brainer. Maxwell has also proved lately that he can be consistent throughout an IPL season and seems to be enjoying the RCB environment.
Siraj, meanwhile, has quietly cast himself as one of the best T20 pacers in the country, meaning that if RCB were to bid for him at the auction, they would’ve had to raise the paddle several times.
What did they get wrong: There have been reports that the franchise and Yuzvendra Chahal couldn’t finalise a financial package.
If that were to be the truth, RCB might be ruing it. Not just because quality spinners are at a premium, but also because they form the crux of any title-winning team – something RCB aspire to be.
Devdutt Padikkal is another who has shown immense promise. But hasn’t been deemed good enough to be retained. If he were to make his way into the auction, RCB might have their task cut out re-acquiring him.
What they might do at the auction: Find an AB de Villiers replacement. That, though, is easier said than done. They would also want to buy Chahal and Padikkal at the auction but that comes with minimal guarantees.
They would ideally want a powerful middle order — something they’ve struggled with historically. Oh, by the way, they also need a new captain who Kohli can play under.
Considering how RCB have a reputation of paying exorbitantly for international stars, don’t rule out a big-money move for someone like Stokes or Warner too.
Sunrisers Hyderabad retentions: Kane Williamson, Abdul Samad, Umran Malik
What did they do right: Well, the only overseas player that they have retained is pretty good. None of the others (barring Rashid Khan) made a compelling case to be re-signed. David Warner, at least after the T20 World Cup, might have been a good bet. But it seems that that horse has bolted.
The decision to not retain Bhuvneshwar Kumar might also be prudent, considering he has looked far from his best lately. The best part, though, is that SRH have shown faith in two youngsters (Abdul Samad and Umran Malik) – youngsters who can be world-beaters if nurtured properly.
What did they get wrong: NOT RETAIN RASHID KHAN. The Afghan spinner is arguably the best T20 bowler in the world, across conditions. There have been murmurs that both parties couldn’t come to an agreement, with respect to Rashid’s retention price. If that is the case, this is a massive missed opportunity.
Jonny Bairstow is another name that SRH should’ve contemplated retaining. The Englishman is one of the premier white-ball openers in the world and doesn’t have a shabby record in the IPL either.
What they might do at the auction: Well, they effectively need an entire squad. They would do well to not repeat their previous mistakes aka not relying on their foreign players to carry the batting.
Their bowling attack has always been their USP. They would want to maintain that and add a few good Indian batters who could take responsibility and single-handedly win matches for SRH. Such cricketers, though, aren’t ubiquitous, meaning that they won’t come very cheap.
Plenty of work to do at the auction table, it seems.
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