Less than three months before the next IPL player auction, there is no consensus among the franchises on the number of players that can be retained in a squad. At a crucial meeting between the BCCI and the franchise owners on Tuesday in Mumbai, many owners were split between retaining as many as five players or none, but most favoured utilising the right-to-match (RTM) card option at the auction. It was also decided that the player auction will take place in India in the last week of January.
Tuesday's meeting was attended by owners, including Shah Rukh Khan and Jay Mehta (Kolkata Knight Riders), Akash Ambani (Mumbai Indians), Ness Wadia and Mohit Burman (Kings XI Punjab) and Manoj Badale (Rajasthan Royals).
The meeting was called by the BCCI at the behest of the Committee of Administrators, which wanted to apprise the owners of the discussions that took place during the IPL Governing Council meeting on October 24. Last month the IPL Governing Council heard a presentation by Hemang Amin, the IPL's chief operating officer, on various important topics including the number of retentions, the purse available for the auction and the RTM card. Amin's presentation was based on his meeting with all eight franchises.
While the Governing Council was in favour of allowing teams to retain three players, the owners of the two richest franchises, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, argued in favour of retaining a maximum of five and four players respectively on Tuesday. ESPNcricinfo understands Mumbai wanted to retain five players and use two RTMs at the player auction, and were backed by Super Kings, who are back in the IPL after a two-year suspension and had suggested retaining four players with one RTM at the auction.
However, Knight Riders proposed no retentions and sought five RTMs at the auction. Two franchises - Kings XI and Rajasthan Royals, the latter being the second franchise to return having served a two-year suspension - informed the BCCI that they wanted to build their teams from the scratch and did not want any retentions or RTMs. Meanwhile, Sunrisers and Royal Challengers were happy with three retentions and two RTMs.
It is also understood that in the case of both Super Kings and Royals, they can only retain players from their 2015 squads. It comes as no surprise that both Mumbai and Super Kings, who have won the IPL multiple times, were in favour of retaining the maximum players in their attempts to keep their core group intact. Both teams included established match-winners who have been with the franchises for a long time.
Mumbai will be keen to retain players like Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and probably Kieron Pollard, along with Krunal Pandya and Harbhajan Singh. Super Kings, on the other hand, would want to retain MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and possibly the overseas duo of Faf du Plessis and Brendon McCullum.
According to an IPL official, Knight Riders, Royals and Kings XI Punjab suggested the salary cap could be hiked to INR 70-80 crore per team, up from INR 63 crore at the auction in 2017, while the other franchises left that decision to the IPL governing council. The official also said the formula previously used to calculate the salary of a retained player would remain the same. This means that, based on the number of retentions, a retained player would get a percentage of the actual purse.
Among the other decisions at the meeting, the IPL has allowed Kings XI to play three of their home matches outside Chandigarh as long as the remaining four home games are played at their home base in Mohali.
A final decision is yet to be taken on Royals' home base of Jaipur, which is affiliated to the Rajasthan Cricket Association that was suspended by the BCCI in 2014 after Lalit Modi became its president. However, with Modi calling time on his tenure as an administrator recently, the BCCI will decide on the status of the RCA's suspension at its special general meeting on December 9. It is understood that Royals have told the IPL they want to play in Jaipur.
According to the IPL official, final decisions on all the matters are likely to be taken at the next Governing Council meeting, which will then have to be approved by the COA. "There was, to a large extent, a consensus between the franchises on many issues. All of them want the league to grow bigger. Soon, we will deliberate on the suggestions given today and take a final decision," the official said.