The Indian Premier League 2021 Player Retention threw up quite a few surprises, with many established players finding their way out of the teams which had them as the face of the franchises. But such has been the cluttered nature of the IPL retention that you are forced to make some difficult decisions as a franchise and now with players being vested the power of negotiating, it has become a difficult proposition.
However, it would delight the two new teams who now have access to a larger group of star players who they can get hold of in the player draft in late December. We, at Cricket.com, take a look at the potential candidates who may not go to the auction pool at all.
At the time of writing this report, reports stating that KL Rahul is in talks with the Lucknow franchise, who are eager to make him captain. This can potentially become the biggest signing of the draft and surely the first pick given Rahul’s dominance in the last few IPL seasons. Since 2018, Rahul is the highest run-scorer in the league, with 2548 runs at an incredible average of 56.62. Despite apparent criticism over his strike rate, the former Punjab Kings skipper scored his runs at 139.8 with 25 fifty-plus scores that include two centuries. His phenomenal balls per dismissal percentage of 40.5 puts him in a league of his own. Now that he is in the draft, expect Lucknow - who will have the first pick - to break the bank.
A superstar in his own right, Rashid Khan has picked 76 wickets at an average of 20.4 and a stunning economy rate of 6.3 in the IPL so far. He is the second-highest wicket-taker in the IPL since 2018 and has shown his prowess in all three phases of the innings. He wanted to be SRH’s first retention, which would have paid him four more than what he was offered as the second retention, but his London-based agent didn’t budge from his demand. Eventually, SRH had to let him go, but neither Ahmedabad nor Lucknow would miss that chance.
A marquee name in the tournament in the last half a decade, Hardik Pandya’s tenure with Mumbai Indians came to an end. Mumbai not retaining him has more to do with the fact that the all-rounder has stopped bowling completely and hasn’t bowled a single over in the last two seasons owing to a back injury. However, he is still a force to be reckoned with as far as batting is concerned and thus he will be a hot pick in the draft as well. Hardik also hails from Baroda, so Ahmedabad is kind of a home franchise for him. Thus it will have a great connection that CVC Sports would want to build their brand on.
Shreyas Iyer wanted to stay on as captain, which was understandable after he led the side to their first final in 2020. However, an injury changed the dynamics and DC decided to retain Rishabh Pant as the skipper even when Iyer returned for the second leg. That could have played a role, as many reports suggested, but it is for sure that Iyer will command attention in the pick, especially because of his stability and panache for runs. He is a captaincy candidate, further bolstering his value in the draft.
How can one forget David Warner? Just days after being benched by his IPL franchises, with whom he had a special connection, Warner stuck the fifties after fifties to end up as the Player of the Tournament in the ICC T20 World Cup. The fifth highest run-scorer in the tournament, despite playing almost 50 lesser games than any of the top four, Warner’s legacy in the IPL has been a story for the ages. Solid cricketer, loyal to a fault, and an incredible panache to score runs anywhere and everywhere, Warner claims the batting nirvana in the IPL.
Let’s get one thing straight. Ben Stokes is not a great T20 cricketer. However, he has the aura of inflicting carnage out of nowhere and his presence is enough to power a side through. He has a strike rate of 154.4 when the team wins (in the last four IPLs) and that is a good metric to judge his caliber. Despite his injuries and mental health concerns, only a fool would write him off and thus be sure that teams would contemplate his name as far as building draft positions is concerned.
Mumbai had a decision to make between Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan and they eventually decided to retain the former. While Kishan will definitely be in Mumbai’s radar to buy him back in the auction, it is difficult to predict if he would be available. Kishan is a prime wicketkeeper and currently a capped one as well, with a very modern outlook towards T20 batting - the likes of which are not available in the market easily. He played his part to perfection for Mumbai, scoring at an average of 40.59 and an SR of 152 in winning matches.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s guile and understanding of a situation are second to none, and the way he has evolved himself as an impeccable bowler in the shortest format is a commendable story. While it is still not sure if he has been contracted by any new franchises, chances are both teams would look at him as a solution to their future issues as far as leading the spin unit is concerned. Ahmedabad pitch is a graveyard for the pacer for many years and even after relaid, it hasn’t changed much. Ashwin will be an ideal fit for such conditions.
Cricket.com understands that Royal Challengers Bangalore tried to retain Yuzvendra Chahal but the spinner was not happy with the sum offered. Hence he decided to part ways - a decision that can only reap dividends for him personally in the long run. Chahal is an extremely crafty bowler and one of the first names on the RCB team sheet for a long time. However, most of the time, he had to deal with the small dimensions of the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and a move to a new venue would ensure a much better performance.
With 32 wickets from 15 games at an average of 14.3, Harshal Patel emerged as the biggest positive for RCB this year and bagged the purple cap as well. The limitations understandably handicapped them but that would also mean that he can be purchased by one of the new franchises. Harshal, on his T20I debut, proved that his performances in the IPL are no fluke and that is an added advantage as far as validation is concerned.