Ahead of a major reset for the existing eight Indian Premier League franchises and with two new teams in fray for the 2022 season, the first part of the puzzles will be complete when the teams announce who are players they will be retaining.

Ahead of the impending mega auction that will feature 10 teams looking to build their squads for IPL 2022 and beyond, the existing franchises get the chance to retain a maximum of four players (can choose to retain no one too).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has reportedly set a salary cap of Rs 90 crore as the overall auction budget, including the two new entrants, for the next season and allowed a maximum of four retentions for the eight established teams.

The two new franchises – Lucknow and Ahmedabad – will be given a choice to pick three players from the auction pool after the old teams announce their choice of retentions.

In case of four retentions, it could be either three Indians and one foreign player or at the maximum two Indians and as many foreigners.

There has been no official communication from the IPL or BCCI about the retention rules but as per multiple media reports this is the format:

If four players retained: Player 1 will be valued at Rs 16 crore, Player 2 at Rs 12 crore, Player 3 at Rs 8 crore and Player 4 at Rs 6 crore. Therefore, the total purse deducted will be Rs 42 crore and that franchise will have Rs 48 crore to play with at the big auction.

If three players retained: Player 1 is valued at Rs 15 crore, Player 2 at Rs 11 crore and Player 3 will have Rs 7 crore earmarked for deductions. Therefore the total of Rs 33 crore will be deducted from full purse and that particular franchise will have Rs 57 crore to bid at auction.

If two players retained: Player 1 is valued at Rs 14 crore and Player 2 at Rs 10 crore and a total of Rs 24 crore deducted from the purse. The franchise, which opts for two retentions, will go in with Rs 66 crore at auction.

If one player retained: will have only one retention available for Rs 14 crore and Rs 76 crore available for auction.

Note: In case of an uncapped player being retained, the deduction will be Rs 4 crore. Franchises can retain two uncapped players. And the choice to be retained lies with the player. 

— Source: PTI

Most teams will have already made their decisions even if the deadline is expected to be November 30 for making it official. But this article will have a look at the sort of questions they face (or already faced) in arriving at their final decisions.

Mumbai’s problem of plenty

Two options are the most obvious. Rohit Sharma, the most successful IPL captain, and Jasprit Bumrah, arguably the best white-ball pacer India has ever produced, have to be No 1 and No 2. Kieron Pollard might be on the wrong side of 30 (or is it the right side, in T20 cricket?) and he will likely be the third player to be retained. If Mumbai do have the budget and inclination to retain four players, that is where the things could get tricky. Firstly, in terms of picking the fourth option. And finally, in terms of the player accepting to be the fourth pick within the budget.

Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav (both not uncapped anymore) as well the Pandya brothers Hardik and Krunal will feature in this discussion you’d imagine. Quinton de Kock and Trent Boult, therefore, will have to be released. The way to look at this perhaps would be think who would fetch the most among the four if they were to be in an auction... and that should narrow things down to Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav, given the importance of Indian batters to the XI.

“Rohit Sharma number 1, Jasprith Bumrah number 2, number 3 Kieron Pollard and number 4, I’m very clear on that, Ishan Kishan,” former India allrounder Irfan Pathan told Star Sports. “He’s 23-years-old and has shown glimpses of what he can do and achieve. He’s a solid hitter when it comes to having a left-hand batsman at the top of the order and you can definitely invest in him because he will have at least 10 years of good level of cricket, so Ishan Kishan.”

What next for RCB?

Virat Kohli’s decision to quit captaincy means the franchise need a captain. AB de Villiers’ retirement from cricket perhaps makes it evident that RCB will retain only overseas player and that will be Glenn Maxwell, an IPL star reborn in the red and gold last season. He has had success in the Big Bash League as captain, so it remains to be seen if that’s the direction they head in. But apart from Kohli (who will likely take up a couple of extra crores over the set slab) and Maxwell, RCB this time around have the pleasant headache from choosing from a few Indian options. In Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel and Devdutt Padikkal, they have four really solid Indian players they will be looking at. And given all four of them are capped Indian players, they won’t come cheap either.

Really, at this point, there is no clear right answer facing RCB as you could justify any combination of retentions from those names. Perhaps Padikkal is someone they can afford to let go, given the specific set of skills the other three offer.

“I would go for Chahal as well as Siraj because they offer different bowling skills. He can give you the new ball and he can give you those yorkers as well at the same time,” Pathan said. “Yes, Harshal Patel will be a big talking point as well, but if RCB thinks he’s got the skill to do really well at the Chinnaswamy Stadium regularly, then in place of Siraj, they might go for Harshal Patel.”

Punjab Kings reset again?

As per multiple reports, KL Rahul is said to have parted ways with the franchise so that rules out their most obvious first retention choice. The need a captain, and for that, could look within and make Mayank Agarwal their main man. Ravi Bishnoi and Shahrukh Khan were, to put it mildly, poorly utitlised by the franchise in the past season but they are players who other franchises would be itching to get their hands on. Will either of them, uncapped as they are, be content with being retaining for Rs 4 crore? Should either of them not work out, is Arshdeep a viable option? Will Mayank want to lead a franchise when Rahul is not going to be around? Will Punjab ever get their squad building strategy (and subsequent team selections) right? Could they look at left-field choices like Aiden Markram or Nicholas Pooran for the overseas slot?

As is usually the case, there are more questions than answers surrounding a franchise that always seems to be rebuilding, irrespective of mini or mega being the size of the auction.

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s overseas conundrum

Unless there is Tollywood style late drama, the association between David Warner and SRH can be considered done and dusted. Kane Williamson should be their first choice for captaincy (if they are his) but there have been some reports about a lack of agreement with Rashid Khan. The choice of first and second retention will determine how much the players are worth and that would be a tricky question to answer. If they manage to find the consensus, it is beyond obvious that these would be two overseas players SRH retain. While there are some exciting young Indians in their squad like Abdul Samad or Umran Malik, it remains to be seen whether anyone is deemed worthy of a retention (even for Rs 4 crore as uncapped).

Other key points

The two most successful sides in the IPL are also the two who love their consistency of squad building. While Mumbai Indians have to rebound after a poor season, Chennai Super Kings must be hating the prospect of breaking up the winning squad.

Even if they managed to defy expectations, the men in yellow are often hesitant to change things around too much as they showed after IPL 2020. Despite all the mixed signals coming from his side and the question of will-he-won’t-he, MS Dhoni will surely be one among the four picks. (Even if Gautam Gambhir, to no one’s surprise, thinks that shouldn’t be the case.) Maybe he won’t be listed as the No 1 choice, but beyond that, it is not possible to imagine CSK will let Dhoni go into the auction when he has made it clear he hopes to play his final match in Chennai. The overseas slot(s) could prove to be the trickiest to solve for CSK, with Ravindra Jadeja and Ruturaj Gaikwad all but likely to stay back. In Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Dwayne Bravo and Sam Curran, they have a tough choice to make.

For the other IPL 2021 finalists too, the captain is a question to be answered. Eoin Morgan was brilliant in leading KKR to the final after a remarkable recovery in the UAE leg, but it is hard to imagine him getting the nod as one of the four retentions. Shubman Gill is possibly the evident Indian pick but the fact that Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy are also no longer uncapped also makes things interesting for the franchise. The bigger questions though would be surrounding the likes of their star overseas allrounders Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and their fitness plus long term future.

For Rajasthan Royals, Jos Buttler is the most obvious overseas choice and, should they choose to stick with him as their leader, Sanju Samson would be staying back too. But among Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, they will have to then make a tough call. Rest of the squad doesn’t quite scream retention.

And finally, Delhi Capitals. As per ESPNCricinfo, they have decided that their four retentions would be Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Axar Patel and Anrich Norte... decisions that fell into place once Shreyas Iyer made his plan clear to enter the auction.