Will CSK retain Dhoni and Raina on return?

Chopra: Most teams unlikely to retain more than two players (1:41)

Aakash Chopra dissects the IPL player retention rules and lays out his thoughts on the importance of the right-to-match card (1:41)

Why Retain?

1) When the franchise believes the value of a player at an auction would be more than the amount they can retain him for
2) When the business, brand/marketing value of the player is vital towards the growth of the franchise

When to use the Right to Match card (RTM)

1) If the franchise feels the player can be obtained for a value lesser than the amount they will need to retain him.
2) The players are not must-haves and the franchise is ready to run the risk of losing them while trying to find someone else with similar strengths and skills.

Mumbai Indians

Possible Retention - Rohit Sharma (Captain), Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah

Possible Right to Match - Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard

The three-time champions have a strong squad and would want to retain the bulk of it for the upcoming season. For starters, Mumbai should keep their captain Rohit Sharma, allrounder Hardik Pandya and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah. All three perform specialist roles in the format and are on top of their game currently. Additionally, the price at which they will get to retain them would more or less be the price at which they are likely to go for at the auction. Mumbai may want to use their RTMs on Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard. Both are proven matchwinners and have the skills to contribute in all three disciplines of the game.

Point to ponder: The one danger behind retaining three players is that the salary purse is diminished by INR 33 crores, leaving only 47 more to assemble the rest of the squad.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Possible Retention - Andre Russell, Sunil Narine

Possible Right to Match - Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Gautam Gambhir, Kuldeep Yadav

Knight Riders throw up a very interesting conundrum. They have a great all-round unit but, barring the West Indies pair of Andre Russel and Sunil Narine, they don't really have big names that are likely to fetch in excess of INR 8.5 crores in the auction. Russell, coming back from his ban, would be keen to make amends and is a proven matchwinner in the T20 format and Narine has added a new dimension with his hard-hitting batting performances as an opener. However, retaining more than two players does not make business sense and hence Knight Riders would be in a better position to save their purse and look to use their RTMs for their key players. They could potentially use the three RTMs on Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Gautam Gambhir and then try to buy back players such as Chris Lynn with the money saved.

Point to ponder: Knight Riders have never spent big money to buy or retain players. Their original suggestion was for IPL to grant five RTM cards, so they could retain their players without hard negotiations. The question then for the two-time IPL champions is: how many to retain without splurging too much before the auction?

Delhi Daredevils

Possible Retention - Chris Morris, Rishabh Pant

Possible Right to Match - Quinton de Kock, Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson

Having had a prolonged run of poor seasons, Daredevils may be forced to look for another overhaul. With a brand new coaching staff, it is inevitable that new ideas and strategies would emerge. They had invested a lot on young Indian talent over the last two seasons but may look for more balance this time around. With Chris Morris peaking last season and showing potential with both bat and ball, there is a good chance he could go for over INR 12 crores in the upcoming auction and hence could be retained. Daredevils could even take a chance by picking Morris through the RTM option, but that could result in other teams elevating his price. Daredevils may also look to retain wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant as he offers two roles and would be ideal to the balance of the team.

Point to ponder: Daredevils have been the most indulgent franchise at auctions making headlines for highest bids for a single player. They might be tempted once again to do that with the likes of Ben Stokes up for grabs. That could determine their retention strategy.


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Kings XI Punjab

Possible Retention - No one

Possible Right to Match - Glenn Maxwell and Axar Patel

Kings XI have made the playoffs only twice in 10 seasons and would be looking to pick a strong team to change their fortunes. A complete revamp cannot be ruled out, and considering none of their players is likely to go for more than INR 12 crores in the auction, it makes sense as well. However, Kings XI should use the RTMs to get back Glenn Maxwell and Axar Patel. Both are allrounders and Maxwell, in form, is an unarguable matchwinner. He was instrumental in helping Kings XI make the playoffs in 2014. Although both these players are not as consistent as they would like to be, they can still add value with the bat, ball and in the field.

Point to ponder: Kings XI have been conservative at the auction table, and that trend is unlikely to change. During the last big auction, they were one of the few franchises to retain an uncapped player in Manan Vohra. In all likelihood, they will come to the auction with the maximum purse.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Possible Retention - David Warner, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan

Possible Right to Match - Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammad Siraj and Vijay Shankar

Similar to Mumbai, Sunrisers also have three T20 specialists that form the core of the team. Warner, Bhuvneshwar and Rashid are all highly-valued players and although it could dent their purse, there is no reason to not pick them. Warner was the top run-scorer in IPL 2015 and 2017 and has easily been the best opener in the IPL for many seasons now. He has matured as a leader, too. Bhuvaneshwar finished as the highest wicket-taker for the last two seasons in a row and is among the best new-ball and death bowler in limited-overs matches.

Having identified Rashid and picking him last season, Sunrisers would want to ensure his services again. After a successful IPL debut in 2017 and dismantling batsmen all around the world with his variations, Rashid is the most sought after spinner in T20 cricket currently. Teams with great bowling attacks have historically done well in the IPL and Sunrisers would want to hold on to their two strike bowlers. Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson are the other options they can look at to use the RTM cards on but that will solely depend on how much teams are willing to pay for these players.

Point to ponder: Dhawan is a big-name India player and has been scoring runs across formats. But it remains to be seen if he would like to negotiate a fat pay check to be retained. If Sunrisers opt to use the RTM card for him, rival franchises are bound to flare up the price levels.


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Royal Challengers Bangalore

Possible Retention - Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers

Possible Right to Match - Yuzvendra Chahal, KL Rahul, Sarfaraz Khan

It is a no-brainer that Royal Challengers would retain their captain Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. In 2016, both Kohli and de Villiers single-handedly took them to the finals. Kohli is also eye candy from the brand and business point of view. Royal Challengers may look to retain or use their RTM card on legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been good in the middle overs and a key spinner for India in limited-overs matches recently.

Point to ponder: The big question for Royal Challengers would be whether to use the RTM card for Chris Gayle or not. His batting numbers in the IPL have been rather lean for the past few seasons, and he was even dropped for some matches in 2017. But Gayle, the brand, remains strong and that will be on the mind of the franchise when it finalises its strategy.

On the bowling front, Chahal has grown into an impact player and is one of Kohli's go-to bowlers in the IPL. So will Royal Challengers shell out big money to retain him (INR 7 crore) or buy him back via the RTM route?

Chennai Super Kings

Possible Retention - MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja

Possible Right to Match - Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo

Super Kings, one of the most popular teams, are back in the IPL after a gap of two years and they would like to continue where they left off in 2015. None of the players from the 2015 squad is really in form or expected to demand exorbitant prices. In an ideal world, Super Kings would not want to retain any player and look to get them through the RTM option, like Knight Riders, and save their purse. However, the emotional quotient is likely to prevail over all logic and they are likely to retain Dhoni and the top run-scorer in the IPL - Suresh Raina. Both have been unbelievably successful for the franchise and are the only two players to have made the playoffs in nine out of the 10 editions.

These two would also be vital towards bringing the loyalty back among the fans. There is an outside chance that Super Kings could retain Ravindra Jadeja as well considering he brings in three skills and most Indian allrounders tend to be retained. With R Ashwin having played just one T20 match in almost 18 months, Super Kings could look beyond him and invest on local boy Washington Sundar, who was one of the most impressive players in IPL 2017. He followed with a successful domestic season and a call-up to the international T20 squad as well.

Point to ponder: Do they retain past matchwinners like McCullum and Bravo through the RTM option or look to tap newer, fresher talent?

Rajasthan Royals

Possible Retention - None

Possible Right to Match - Steven Smith, Ajinkya Rahane

For Rajasthan Royals, it is best they start from scratch. Similar to Daredevils, Royals will go in with a brand new support staff. A lot of their 2015 stars are playing for other franchises right now and a few players are on the wrong side of their thirties. The best Royals could hope for is to pick up Steven Smith as their captain through the RTM option and build a squad around him. This way they would have a lot of money in their purse and may have an advantage in picking up some emerging stars and T20 specialists. It will be a surprise if Royals go on to retain a few players from their original squad.

Point to ponder: Rahane will be a talking point for Royals. He might not be an explosive batsman, but his measured approach and experience of being part of a successful Indian team for a long time will offer the Royals management the option to even think of him as leadership material.