A day before the IPL franchises release the names of the players they have retained, we try to work out who those cricketers could be, based on the buzz from the teams and previous retention and auction trends.
After years of getting close to the title, Mumbai Indians finally got their hands on it in 2013, providing the perfect send-off for the talismanic Sachin Tendulkar. Over the season, they also settled on the biggest active cricketer in Mumbai cricket, Rohit Sharma, as their captain. Rohit has since blossomed in international cricket as well, which means picking him as the face of the high-profile franchise is a no-brainer.
They also have several Twenty20 superstars in their ranks, though there are concerns over the extent of Kieron Pollard's knee injury that has sidelined him since the Champions League in early October. Lasith Malinga and Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson sharing the new ball provided one of the most riveting passages of play in the 2013 season when they shackled a rampant Chris Gayle, and they possess the pace to rattle most line-ups.
Among the other Indians, Harbhajan Singh has been pivotal to both of Mumbai's Champions League successes but the word is that he is unlikely to be retained. Mumbai will likely choose between two of their key batsmen, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik, for the fifth available spot.
Our picks: Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson and Dinesh Karthik/Ambati Rayudu
After the termination of Deccan Chargers, Sunrisers Hyderabad surprised many with their success in their first season, finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League. To make things even better Shikhar Dhawan, a player who was a middling batsman when they bought him, has emerged as a bonafide star after a run-filled 2013. With franchises desperate for a player the team can be identified by, Dhawan is set to be retained for big money. The other Indian who has delivered for them is legspinner Amit Mishra, who has built up a terrific IPL record, but he is unlikely to be among those the franchise holds on to. They also have Ishant Sharma and Parthiv Patel in their ranks, but neither has done well enough to merit retention.
Sunrisers' other high-profile players are foreigners. Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White haven't been roaring successes and are set to go into the auction, and though Dale Steyn delivered some high-quality spells, non-cricketing reasons suggest he too is likely to join them. One overseas player the franchise is interested in is South Africa's wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, who stunned India with three consecutive centuries in the recent ODI series.
Our picks: Shikhar Dhawan, Quinton de Kock (in talks).
With inputs from Nagraj Gollapudi and Amol Karhadkar