Finally, there are some interesting developments in the IPL. The latest headlines are regarding the player retentions, and there are a few interesting decisions made by the franchises:
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni, Albie Morkel and Suresh Raina were shoo-ins; but I am surprised with the choice of the other player. Murali Vijay is a great striker of the ball, and was instrumental in CSK’s good performances in IPL 3 and the Champions League; but they would have been better served if they had retained Ashwin, as CSK is already light in the bowling department, and he was one bowler the team could always rely on, to take wickets or bring down the run rate.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar was a predictable retention; and it must have a close call between Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh. What confuses me, is the retention of two foreign players. If I’m not mistaken, only one foreign player could be retained. Anyway, MI went with the right picks, choosing their most destructive foreign imports: Pollard and Malinga.
Rajasthan Royals: Putting aside their legal troubles, RR has retained their two foreign star players, the two Shanes: Watson and Warne. They owe a lot to Warne, and have rightly retained him; and Watson is a very handy player in T20s. What is surprising, is the non-retention of Yusuf Pathan. After all, Warne was so enamored with his batting, calling Pathan’s century in the IPL as the best innings he had ever witnessed (poor long term memory, for sure!). Anyway, given his destructive performace in the recent ODI against NZ, Rajasthan’s loss will be another team’s gain.
Delhi Daredevils: While Virender Sehwag was a certain pick, the exclusions of Gambhir, De Villiers, Warner, Dilshan and Vettori are interesting. They had perhaps the most destructive batting line-up in the IPL, and they could have at least afforded to pick one foreign player. It does look like they are aiming for a fresh start, centering around Sehwag.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: It is hard to believe that in a team which boasted the likes of Kumble, Dravid, Pietersen, Kallis, Steyn, White and Morgan, RCB has decided to retain just one player: the young Virat Kohli. Granted, he has been in tremendous nick, but if at all, you wanted to retain just one player, wouldn’t you have preferred a tried and tested player? Kumble and Kallis were two very instrumental figures in the recent emergence of RCB as a force to contend with in both the IPL and the Champions League, and their non retention could only mean that the RCB is looking for long-term options. It is an interesting decision, and only time will tell if they made the right choice.
Kolkata Knight Riders: One of three teams, which has decided not to retain any players; not a major surprise, considering their poor performances in all three IPLs so far. What is interesting though, is the non retention of Ganguly. A few days back, he had stated his desire to play for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy to prepare for the IPL; so for KKR to drop him, is a bold move. After all, he is their most identifiable player. I wonder how Kolkata itself, will rally around a team which would not include their Dada.
Kings XI Punjab: A team which is not even sure of its participation in the next tournament, they have decided to do away with the whole rabble. Players like Yuvraj, Sangakarra, Irfan Pathan were not really worth investing in.
Deccan Chargers: A team which plays well due to the sum of its parts, more than relying on individual performances; there is no Gilchrist or Symonds to prop them up this time. It will be interesting to see their strategy during the auctions. Will they go the MI way, and pick up big players, or will they go the RR way and pick one big player, and lesser cricketers revolving around that one person? Brian Lara, anyone?