The Indian Premier League is about to enter its seventh season, and Friday was the last day for teams to firm up the core of their side for the next three years.
So why is player retention so crucial? Aside from the obvious reason that it ensures continuity, it prevents your best players from testing the market. Hence, a team can retain a player for a certain cost to their salary cap, even though they might have got more had they been in the auction.
More importantly for the franchise, the amount deducted from their auction purse could well be considerably less than what they might be paying a retained player. For example, the Chennai Super Kings retained Mahendra Singh Dhoni for $1.8 million. Compared to that, the Kolkata Knight Riders paid $2.4 million for Gautam Gambhir in the 2011 auction.
It’s safe to say Dhoni would’ve drawn a far higher price, and may well be paid more than the $1.8 million CSK lost from their salary cap for retaining the Indian captain. That freed up a considerable sum that CSK could use on buying other players in the auction, which they did by outbidding other franchises for players like Mike Hussey, Ravichandran Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo.
It is no coincidence that Chennai and Mumbai Indians, the only teams to retain the full quota of four players, were also the only sides to make the playoffs in each of the three seasons since the retention.
So how have the teams used their options this time? Here’s a look at who the teams have retained, how many more they can retain through their “right to match”, and how much money they’ve left for the IPL auction scheduled to be held next month.
Given that the team composition requires sides to play atleast seven Indian players in the XI, Chennai seem to have done the best business by retaining four Indian players. They might use their right to match on Hussey, who’s having an excellent season with Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash.
Mumbai have retained three Indian players and their two overseas retentions, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga, are among the biggest names in T20 cricket. They had such a strong squad that one can see them use their “right to match” on any one of Mitchell Johnson, Pragyan Ojha, or Dinesh Karthik.
Rajasthan Royals have kept a healthy balance with the players they’ve retained. Australians Shane Watson, James Faulker, and new India recruit Stuart Binny can bowl. They’re also good with the bat, which is what Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson have been retained for. Samson also keeps wickets.
Royal Challengers Bangalore are woefully short on Indian players and bowlers, but to be fair to them, none of their bowlers or Indian players are likely to fetch Rs.5.5 crore in the auction, which is what RCB would’ve had to pay to retain a fourth player.
Kolkata Knight Riders have gambled on building a new squad, although they can retain two of their players in addition to captain Gautam Gambhir and ace spinner Sunil Narine. They could’ve considered retaining an uncapped player in the form of Rajat Bhatia, who has been a key performer for them since 2011 and for the Delhi Daredevils before that.
Sunrisers Hyderabad surprisingly chose to not retain Amit Mishra. The leggie has been one of the most consistent players in the IPL and with only two teams retaining a spinner, one can expect a lot of demand for slow bowlers.
While losing Rs.12.5 crore of their salary cap for David Miller might be high, Kings XI Punjab simply couldn’t afford to let teams get into a bidding war over one of the cleanest hitters around. None of their capped Indian players were worth retaining for the cap money they’d have lost. They also gave the biggest surprise of retention day by keeping Manan Vohra. It’s difficult to see how he would’ve fetched a bid of Rs.4 crore, or why they didn’t retain Mandeep Singh for the same amount as he’s rated higher in the domestic circuit.
Delhi have chosen to build from scratch, although they could use their right to match for players like Kevin Pietersen and David Warner. Given that most of their best players are foreigners, it may not be the worst move to wait for the auction and retain them at a lower price.