The Indian Premier League (IPL) retentions for the upcoming 2022 seasons are now done and dusted. The eight existing franchises have made their picks. Some have made bold choices, some others have broken from the past while some have stuck to the past.
It is interesting to note that the eight existing franchises have had tough calls trying to pick their retained players. But at least five of the eight franchises have made one similar call and that is with regards to their leader.
There is no doubt that Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Rajasthan have retained players they think are going to be their captains in the next couple of years or even beyond. The strategy is simply to build a side around players they think will serve them for the foreseeable future.
Rajasthan Retained Samson, Buttler, and Jaiswal
So let us look at Rajasthan who have clearly gone with Sanju Samson as their leader because they think he is going to be leading them beyond the three-year period of the auction cycle. Then there is Yashasvi Jaiswal, who is a young man on the move and Rajasthan wants to be at the right place when that happens.
The strategy is to ensure that if and when Jaiswal becomes a capped player, they can bask in the reflected glory. Picking Jos Buttler was a no-brainer after his T20 World Cup showing.
Delhi Build Around Pant
Elsewhere, Rishabh Pant continues to be the fulcrum of the Delhi dressing room. Once Pant was preferred over Shreyas Iyer as Delhi captain, it was a given that he would be retained. Delhi has invested a lot in Pant and Prithvi Shaw. They had also invested a lot in Iyer. The mistakes that Delhi made in their previous era of letting go of players in a bunch is not being repeated now. The Delhi franchise have realised that they need to have a strong core.
Clearly, with Iyer now gone after seven years, that investment has been diluted to some extent. But Delhi has shown Rajasthan the way forward with regards to picking a future leader and nurturing their talent.
Mumbai Retains Its Two Leaders
The original leader in investing and building sides around a core was obviously Mumbai. The way they have retained Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard shows just how much they are invested in their past. These are two natural leaders of the franchise. They also have Jasprit Bumrah who is another leader, but with the ball. The franchise had a tough call of retaining the Pandya brothers, especially Hardik, and Ishan Kishan. But they have decided to let them go. The strategy may be to pick them in the auction or letting go of them completely.
The other big catch could well be Shreyas Iyer at the auction, because he is a true blue Mumbaikar and his city connection could prove to be a big asset in the coming years. So Mumbai has had to make the tough call.
Kane, the Obvious Pick
Hyderabad had thrown their weight behind Kane Williamson and it was obvious that he was going to be retained. Currently, Williamson is the best all-format skipper in the world and it was a no-brainer that Hyderabad would retain him.
The other retention surprised many, especially the picks of the Kashmir boys Abdul Samad and Umran Malik. Again, the strategy seems to be around building a side for the future. A spark has been seen in both, especially Malik, who is a rapid express fast bowler and whose retention suggests that he is going to be the one around whom the franchise will build its pace attack.
Malik has been picked over Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T Natarajan. Then there is Rashid Khan who has been let go of! These are costly misses by Hyderabad, but they have Williamson in their pockets.
Jadeja, Chennai’s Next Skipper?
Chennai on the other hand have taken one step forward but also not broken its link with the past. The fact that they have retained Ravindra Jadeja as their first choice shows that he is the next in line in terms of leadership. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has taken a pay cut, but he is going to be very much the overall leader as always. The choice of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Moeen Ali tells you that they are keeping an eye on availability, fitness and of course current form.
To let go of Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar etc shows that they are secure in the knowledge that they can bring them back through the auction.
RCB Has Made It Tough for Themselves
Leadership will play a big role in the upcoming seasons of the IPL. With five teams already throwing their weight behind their existing leaders, it is going to be interesting to see how the other three existing franchises react.
Bangalore for one could not have looked beyond Virat Kohli, even if he is no longer the captain. Glenn Maxwell’s current form makes him a certainty and Mohammed Siraj is an interesting pick. To let go of Yuzvendra Chahal and Harshal Patel, two current performers in the format, means that the franchise could not make up their minds. With AB de Villiers retired and unavailable, the choices should have been easier, but Bangalore has made it tougher for themselves.
Punjab Release Rahul
Some tough calls were also made by Punjab Kings. To let go of their captain Lokesh Rahul must have been tough but then the franchise does have a history of their captains leaving franchise quite frequently.
The price tag around Mayank Agarwal suggests that he is going to be a key performer for the franchise with Anil Kumble adding that he was 'captaincy material' while announcing the retentions on the broadcast.
The bigger surprise though was the investment in Arshdeep Singh. It clearly shows that the franchise wants to invest in a younger seamer than go for an experienced Mohammed Shami. Arshdeep is going to be a useful white ball exponent in the coming years and the franchise have clearly understood his value.
Kolkata Retained Two Young Indians
Kolkata too obviously have seen value in young all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer and mystery boy Varun Chakravarthy. Hence, they have gone for them over the likes of Shubman Gill, who could have been the future captain.
Just why Andre Russell and Sunil Narine have been retained despite their below par performances is a mystery.
Both have been picked purely on reputation rather than on form. It is clearly a compromise. They could have gone with Gill as a future captain rather than live in the hope of a miracle from Russell and Narine.
The tough part for all the eight existing franchises now is done and dusted. The easier part will happen now when the mega auction takes place. The spread will be massive and the budgets will be reasonable. They can now spend as per the roles that they wish to fill. It is therefore going to be interesting to see how the eight existing franchises fare on that mega auction day. But the even more interesting part this time will be how the two new franchises make their picks, because that will give an indication of their vision.
As they say, the fun and games have just begun.
Remember, we are still five months away from the first ball being bowled in the new, expanded 10-team IPL.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)