Hardik, who was one of the four players retained ahead of the 2018 auction, struggled with his fitness during IPL 2021. It is learnt that he has told the Indian selectors to not consider him for selection for a while so that he can work on his overall fitness, including returning to full-time bowling.
Kishan is an equally attractive proposition for Mumbai, considering he is a powerful batter at the top, in the middle, and can also keep wicket. As for Suryakumar, he is also a big-impact player who can bat aggressively and also anchor the innings.
The defending champions are set to retain four players, including the Indian trio of captain MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Ruturaj Gaikwad. There is a slight question mark over the final slot: will it be Moeen Ali, Josh Hazelwood, Sam Curran or Dwayne Bravo?
The other point of discussion, it is learnt, concerns around Dhoni’s slot on the retention list as that will have an impact on the auction purse. Super Kings are in favour of marking Dhoni, who has been their captain since 2008, as their first retention. While that would mean INR 16 crore will be deducted from the purse, the advantage the franchise foresees is, in case he retires after IPL 2022, it will allow Super Kings to have a strong purse ahead of the IPL 2023 auction. But Dhoni, it is learnt, is keener to be bought back at a lesser price so that the other players get better deals.
It will not be an easy choice, considering Gill and Iyer bring different skill-sets. Gill’s tempo has often been a talking point, but Knight Riders might look at him as a future captain. Iyer, meanwhile, made a strong impression in the UAE leg of the 2021 IPL, which paved the way for his India debut recently in the home T20I series against New Zealand. There aren’t many genuine allrounders in Indian cricket; plus Iyer can also be a floater in the batting line-up. Tripathi, too, has the ability to move around in the batting line-up and score quickly.
Padikkal, 21, has quickly grown into one of the most consistent openers since making his IPL debut in 2020. Harshal, who also made his T20I debut against New Zealand recently, has become one of the best death bowlers in IPL. In the most recent season, he was the highest wicket-taker, with 32 strikes in 15 matches at an economy rate of 8.14.
Chahal continues to be a sought-after spinner in IPL alongside Rashid Khan and R Ashwin while Siraj has become a more dependable seamer in the last two seasons.
While Sanju Samson, who was elevated to captaincy last season, has been confirmed as Royals’ first retention, the franchise is still waiting to seal the other three slots. England wicketkeeper-batter Jos Buttler is the second name on the list and Royals are optimistic that he will sign the new contract. The fourth place is likely to go to Yashasvi Jaiswal, who was bought by Royals in the 2020 auction for INR 2.4 crore. The third retention has been reserved for England fast bowler Jofra Archer, subject to fitness. Archer was named Player of the Tournament in 2020, but missed the entire 2021 season with injury.
After being dropped from the Sunrisers XI and stripped off his captaincy, David Warner struck back in the T20 World Cup, where he was named Player of the Tournament. However, Sunrisers are unlikely to retain him. Rashid Khan is set to be the first retention while Kane Williamson, who was handed captaincy midway through the 2021 season, is the second name Sunrisers are considering to retain.
If Williamson does get picked as Sunrisers’ second player, they will lose anywhere between INR 10 and 12 crore from the auction purse depending on how many players they eventually retain. The question Sunrisers are faced with is: can they release the New Zealand captain and buy him back at the auction for a lesser price in case the two new teams don’t pick him before the auction?
Has KL Rahul categorically told Punjab Kings that he wants to move on? There is no definitive answer yet, but there has been speculation that he has given an in-principle approval to the Lucknow-based franchise to move there. Kings, though, are keen to persuade Rahul to stay back.
With inputs by Gaurav Sundararaman
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