Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
IPL franchises will be allowed to retain a maximum of five of their existing players through a combination of player retention before the 2018 auction and the use of right-to-match cards during the auction. The salary cap for each team for the 2018 season has been set at INR 80 crore (approximately $12.4 million) by the IPL governing council, which met in Delhi on Tuesday along with the Supreme Court-appointed committee of administrators.
The dates for the auction are yet to be finalised. One of the governing council's members, Sourav Ganguly felt it would be best to hold the event after the third Test and final Test between India and South Africa. It is understood that the auction may take place on January 29 or February 3.
Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, the two franchises returning from a two-year suspension, will be able to retain players from among those who were in their squads in 2015, and from the list of their players who represented Rising Pune Super Giant and Gujarat Lions in 2017. Super Giant and Lions are no longer part of the IPL because they were brought in as temporary replacements while Super Kings and Royals served their suspensions.
Of the five players, a franchise can retain a maximum of three through retention in the lead up to the auction, and a maximum of three through right-to-match cards during the auction. If a franchise does not retain any player before the auction it can still retain only three using right-to-match cards. A right-to-match card gives the franchise the ability to buy back its player during the auction by matching the highest bid made for the player by another franchise, once the bidding is over.
The other restrictions on player retention are: a maximum of three capped Indian players can be retained, and only two overseas players and two uncapped Indian players can be retained. These decisions
A franchise will be allowed to spend only INR 33 crore on retentions ahead of the 2018 IPL auction, leaving it at least INR 47 crore to spend at the auction. If a franchise retains the maximum of three of their players before the auction, it will lose from the salary cap INR 15 crore for the first player, INR 11 crore for the second, and INR 7 crore for the third.
If only two players are retained, then the first will cost the franchise INR 12.5 crore from the salary cap, and the second INR 8.5 crore. If only one player is retained, then he will cost the franchise INR 12.5 crore from the salary cap. The IPL has also imposed a salary cap of INR 3 crore for an uncapped player retained before the auction.
Considering the player auction will be a big one, the IPL has increased the salary cap significantly. From INR 66 crore in the last two auctions (2016 and 2017), the salary cap will be INR 80 crore in 2018. It will increase further to INR 82 crore in 2019, and to INR 85 crore in 2020. The IPL said the franchises will need to spend at least 75% of the salary cap each season, and that each squad should contain between 18 and 25 players with a limit of eight overseas players per franchise.
There was also an upwards revision in the base prices of players at the auction. Previously, uncapped Indian players had base prices of INR 10, 20 and 30 lakhs respectively; now each of those slabs has been increased by INR 10 lakh. The minimum base price for capped Indian players has also increased from INR 30 lakh to INR 50 lakh.