A total of 29 players have been retained by their respective franchisees of the Pro Kabaddi League under the Elite Retained Players category, the organisers announced on Monday.

The number of retained players for the upcoming season, starting July 19, has increased from the previous season’s 21.

The non-retained players will go under the hammer at the auctions, to be held on April 8-9. “The League is cognizant of the significance of squad continuity and long-term association of players with their respective teams towards creating strong hooks and bonds for fans as well as sponsors,” said League Commissioner Anupam Goswami.

“With this realisation, PKL has consistently strengthened its Player Retention Policy to facilitate and augment squad continuity, to benefit players as well as their teams.”

The Elite Player Retention cap has been increased from a maximum of four to six. “Franchises can retain up to six elite players from either category A, B or C, with a maximum of two each from Category A and B,” a release said.

The League has also introduced a new category where a franchise can retain a new young player, once his two-year contract is completed under the Retained Young Players category. These retained young players are over and above the existing cap of six “New Young players” that a franchise can have.

“This works in favour of young kabaddi players who have proved their mettle and can continue playing with their respective teams and allows the franchises to build continuity of young talent,” the release stated.

Team Tamil Thalaivas has retained seasoned Ajay Thakur for the second time in a row, along with Manjeet Chhillar.

Experienced players such as Rohit Kumar (Bengaluru Bulls), Fazel Atrachali (U Mumba), Pardeep Narwal (Patna Pirates), Deepak Hooda (Jaipur Pink Panthers), Joginder Narwal (Dabang Delhi) and Maninder Singh (Bengal Warriors) have also been retained by their respective teams.

Pawan Sehrawat (Bengaluru Bulls), Vikash Khandola (Haryana Steelers), Sachin (Gujarat Fortunegiants), Sandeep Dhull (Jaipur Pink Panthers) have also been retained by their respective teams.