Captaincy candidates in demand as IPL teams reset for the big auction
Younger leadership candidates are in heavy demand as the original eight teams of the Indian Premier League decide on their big call before the mega auction—who are the four players they want to retain?
The existing franchises—Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad—will need to decide who these players are (not more than three Indians and not more than two overseas) on Tuesday.
As per the retention rules of BCCI, franchises will be charged ₹16 crore for the first player they retain, ₹12 crore for the second player, ₹8 crore for the third player and ₹6 crore for the fourth player. The salary purse for all the teams is set at ₹90 crore.
It calls for a delicate balance for the eight teams. They have to decide between exhausting almost half their purse by using the full option of retaining four players and going into the auction with a large purse in their hand and have the advantage during the bidding.
For teams like defending champions CSK, five-time winners MI and Capitals, it is a straightforward decision of exercising the option of all four. For others like RCB, KKR and Royals it’s not so clear cut.
It is natural that the most successful sides, CSK and MI will like to retain their core group. For CSK it means legendary captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and last season’s highest run-getter, Ruturaj Gaikwad. For MI, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Kieron Pollard are the top choices. For the fourth spot, both the franchises have some thinking to do. CSK has to choose between Moeen Ali and Faf du Plessis and it is a toss-up between Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan for MI. Moeen had a great season with CSK and doesn’t play Tests anymore so availability won't be an issue.
The biggest challenge is for RCB. With Virat Kohli deciding to step down, they have to pick a player who can be captain. Among their current players they don’t have a leader-like figure, so they need a larger purse in the auction to go for a big player equipped to lead the side. It means while Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell are sure to be retained, if they retain a third player then leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal should be in the list.
The situation RCB find themselves in has a lesson for others as well. As teams look to rebuild, the franchises will have one eye on getting players who are captain-designates. Most of the current sides are captained by players who are thirty-plus and it will be important for them to have a succession plan in place or they will end up with an RCB-like problem. Hence, younger players seen as leadership-material like Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill will be in demand. Samson should be Royals’ first-choice to be retained. With Capitals preferring Rishabh Pant to lead, Iyer will be wooed by various franchises to make himself available for the auction.
Seen as a future captain, KKR should be keen on Gill in their list of those to retain. Given how well he captained KKR last season, captain Eoin Morgan is also a favourite to be retained. Apart from Samson, Royals would be keen on keeping Jos Buttler, unless he makes himself unavailable given his heavy demand. They also have the option of Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer, great players both, but they are often not available to play because of their England commitments or injury issues.
KKR will have to think hard over Venkatesh Iyer. He is the find of the season but is still untested. How he responds when the teams have figured out a gameplan for him remains to be seen. Andre Russell had a free run in the IPL but teams then started keeping their express bowlers and targeted him with fast, into the body stuff when he came to the crease. MI’s Hardik Pandya, who had a below-par IPL season, is unlikely to be retained.
Punjab Kings are keen on retaining KL Rahul but it’s learnt he does not want to stay.
After the eight teams finalise their retention plans, new franchises Lucknow and Ahmedabad will pick a maximum of three players between December 1 and 25 before the mega auction in January. Rahul is expected to captain the Lucknow side and the nucleus of the team can be formed around him.