Dhoni, Kohli, Rohit, Bumrah, Russell retained; Rahul, Rashid opt to go into auction pool
Sunrisers signed up new contracts with the uncapped Jammu & Kashmir pair of Abdul Samad and Umran Malik
As the deadline for player retention ahead of IPL 2022 wound down on Tuesday, a total of 27 players were retained by the eight existing franchises. Overall, the franchises spent INR 269 crore to hold on to these 27 players, which includes 19 Indians - four of them uncapped - and eight foreigners.
Many of the big-ticket players, including MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Glenn Maxwell were retained. But there were some major names missing in the 27, too. Seeing that there was a cap of four players that each team could retain, the list of players released - quite a few of them opted to be released, and go back into the auction pool - was a long one. Like Rashid Khan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar… Here's a team-wise look at how the teams look, and an attempt at explaining the teams' thinking.
NOTE: Teams that have retained four players have spent INR 42 crore (INR 16 crore + INR 12 crore + INR 8 crore + INR 4 crore) from their purse; the number for three retentions is INR 33m crore (15 + 11 + 7), for two it is INR 24 crore (14 and 10), and for one, it is INR 14 crore.
Chennai Super Kings
Retained: Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad
MS Dhoni was the first name the defending champions wanted on their list, alongside that of Ravindra Jadeja, who has been with the franchise since 2011.
The point of discussion concerning Dhoni was which place he should take on the retention list. Dhoni wanted the lowest of the four rungs. The Super Kings, meanwhile, felt placing him as the top player made more sense, as it would swell their purse ahead of the next auction in case he decided to retire after the 2022 season.
Eventually, Dhoni took the second spot, with Jadeja, at INR 16 crore, the first retention.
It was the third slot that was the most debated, with Moeen Ali pitted against Faf du Plessis. It could not be confirmed whether it was Moeen's all-round skills that swung the scales his way, or whether du Plessis wanted a higher price than the INR 6 crore slotted for the third spot.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, who in 2021 became the second player after Robin Uthappa (for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014) to win the Orange Cap for most runs in an IPL season while also being part of the title-winning team, was a unanimous choice as the fourth. It has been learnt that the Super Kings have earmarked the Maharashtra and India batter as a future captain too.
Major players released: Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina, Deepak Chahar
Retained: Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Prithvi Shaw, Anrich Nortje
Delhi Capitals have made the playoffs the last three seasons under Ricky Ponting, who has always been keen to promote young talent. All the four players retained - Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Prithvi Shaw and Anrich Nortje - have been matchwinners for the Capitals more than once over the last two years, and staved off rhe competition easily. It has been learnt that the franchise saw the quartet as the core group around which the rest of the unit could be assembled during the auction.
The absence of Shreyas Iyer is likely to be a talking point, but once the Capitals had retained Pant as the captain for the 2021 season, Iyer's position for the next season was not certain. Iyer himself would obviously have captaincy ambitions, and with more than one team still looking for a leader, he felt he was better off going into the auction.
Major players released: Shreyas Iyer, Avesh Khan, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada
Kolkata Knight Riders
Retained: Andre Russell, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer, Sunil Narine
All the four players Kolkata Knight Riders have retained would have likely found a lot of takers in an auction. Their retentions highlight the importance of supporting players (Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy) who have been with them, and also promoting a young talent (Venkatesh Iyer).
While Russell and Narine have been loyal Knight Riders players for a while, and relatively quick to sign fresh contracts, it is learnt that Chakravarthy and Iyer were keen to bargain for better financial packages. In the end, the franchise managed to convince the two that the Knight Riders could offer them a platform where they could play a more dominant role to help with their ambition.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Knight Riders' chief executive officer Venky Mysore said that leaving out Shubman Gill was a tough choice, but the franchise felt Iyer and Chakravarthy possessed skills that are not easily found in the auction.
Major players released: Eoin Morgan, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Lockie Ferguson
Retained: Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard
Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah were once again the top two retentions, just like four seasons ago. The two other slots were where Mumbai Indians are understood to have waited until the last minute, before making a decision.
The third slot went to Suryakumar Yadav, who topped Ishan Kishan in the mind of the decision makers. It has been learnt that the team management felt Kishan had more impact mainly batting in the top order, as opposed to Suryakumar, who is not just a 360-degree batter but also can float around the batting order.
Long-time Mumbai Indians player Kieron Pollard bagged the fourth slot with a price tag of INR 6 crore, which was slightly more than the INR 5.4 crore the franchise bought him for at the 2018 auction using the right-to-match card.
Major players released: Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Trent Boult, Rahul Chahar
Retained: Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh
Having retained just two players, including the uncapped left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh, Punjab Kings will enter the 2022 auction with the strongest purse of INR 72 crore.
While Punjab were understood to have been disappointed after KL Rahul decided to move on, the franchise moved in quickly to start negotiations with Mayank Agarwal, a potential captaincy candidate.
While Agarwal has signed the new contract worth INR 12 crore, Punjab's auction purse will be deducted by INR 14 crore, the retention amount set by IPL in case only one capped player is retained.
Major players released: KL Rahul, Ravi Bishnoi, Nicholas Pooran
Retained: Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal
Should Rajasthan Royals have retained Jofra Archer, the player of the 2020 IPL? It was a question that kept the management thinking till almost the last minute. However, Archer was forced to sit out of the 2021 season recuperating from surgery, and it is not known when he would be back playing cricket.
Eventually, the Royals decided to stick with Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler, along with uncapped Indian batter Yashasvi Jaiswal leaving them a healthy purse of INR 62 crore.
Major players released: Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Retained: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj
As the first of the three players Royal Challengers Bangalore retained, Virat Kohli will get INR 15 crore. Another day, this would have been headline news: Kohli being paid INR 2 crore less than what he got when Royal Challengers retained him ahead of the 2018 auction. But things have changed - Kohli is no more the captain and wants to end his career at the franchise while trying to leave a legacy.
Glenn Maxwell, for the first time in his IPL career, was retained, getting the second slot at Royal Challengers, while Mohammed Siraj was the third.
It might come as a surprise to many, because Siraj was pitted against the trio of Yuzvendra Chahal, Devdutt Padikkal and Harshal Patel.
One key stumbling block here was the low price tag for the fourth player - INR 6 crore - which is likely to have dissuaded the likes of Padikkal and Harshal, who would have preferred a higher price after consistent impact in the last season especially.
The other thinking behind retaining only three players could be that Royal Challengers still don't have a captain and need a strong auction purse to purchase a high-profile player, ideally Indian.
Major players released: Devdutt Padikkal, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal
How did Sunrisers Hyderabad let go of Rashid Khan?
Rashid, it is understood, was the second player the Sunrisers had slotted in behind Kane Williamson, who had also been identified as the captain. Until recently, it was understood that Rashid was keen to renew his contract with the Sunrisers, who had bought him in 2017 and then retained him a year later for INR 9 crore. However, the Afghanistan legspinner was keen to get a better deal.
The Sunrisers have also held on to two uncapped Indian players, both from Jammu & Kashmir, in aggressive batter Abdul Samad and fast bowler Umran Malik, who made his IPL debut this season and turned heads with extreme pace, touching 150kph. Despite Rashid's absence, one strong element favouring the Sunrisers at the auction is a big purse of INR 68 crore.
Major players released: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo