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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

After triumph, retention reality: Franchises await clarity from Board ahead of mega auction

Will KKR be able to retain their core group of players who made this convincing victory possible? Can they build a strong player base again if they have to release their players? These questions will continue to haunt the support staff and fans alike

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 30.05.24, 10:34 AM
KKR coach Chandrakant Pandit with mentor Gautam Gambhir.

KKR coach Chandrakant Pandit with mentor Gautam Gambhir. File picture

Shah Rukh Khan’s inspirational and motivational speech a few minutes before the players left the ITC Grand Chola in Chennai for the MA Chidambaram Stadium played a part in Kolkata Knight Riders’ clinching their third IPL title on Sunday.

Well past midnight, it was the Bollywood Badshah’s turn to thank the players and the support staff in a heart-wrenching speech inside the dressing room.

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“Thank you, everybody... You guys are lovely. God bless you. Just stay healthy. And, wherever we go ahead from here onwards, I wish you the best... You make us very emotional,” Shah Rukh said in his own inimitable style. “And, we wish we had this team for the rest of our lives. And you kept on listening to my speeches and playing like this.”

Will KKR be able to retain their core group of players who made this convincing victory possible? Can they build a strong player base again if they have to release their players? These questions will continue to haunt the support staff and fans alike.

The growing demand for player retentions ahead of next season’s mega auction has already forced the BCCI to cancel a scheduled meeting in mid-April. At least two of the 10 franchises are learnt to have appealed for eight retentions during the next cycle, a demand the BCCI is not willing to meet since it would alter the teams’ balance.

The meeting involving the owners had planned to pick their brains on the number of retentions to be permitted and the size of the players’ purse. The franchises are allowed to retain four players (a maximum of three Indians and two foreigners) as per the existing policy and the purse is currently capped at Rs 100 crore.

Some Board members feel that the retention should not be more than one and the franchises should be allowed six to eight Right To Match (RTM) options, a policy which will help the players attain his true market value while also maintaining transparency in the whole process.

RTM is an option available to each franchise to retain a player by bidding the highest amount which is determined during a fresh auction. However, there’s a flip side to this process: a franchise can artificially inflate a player’s price so that his team may have to shell out extra money, resulting in an erosion of their purse.

There is also another school of thought that there should be no auction and the players who are interested in switching teams should be ‘traded’ between two franchises, as happened in the case of Hardik Pandya and Cameron Green earlier this season. Such deals involve an undisclosed transfer fee.

However, a top IPL official ruled out the abolition of the auction process. “Auction forms the very basis of the IPL and it is not like various football leagues around the world,” the official said.

There is talk that Venky Mysore, the Knight Riders’ CEO, has suggested against retaining any player by any of the franchises ahead of the auction. Instead, he has proposed that up to eight RTM cards be made available.

This method will ensure players achieve their true market value through competitive bidding, which will benefit them financially. It is also believed that this will promote a balanced distribution of talent across the league, where the players get their deserving value and are appropriately compensated.

KKR, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have an abundance of talent in their ranks and will be the worst hit in case players have to be sacrificed for the auction.

The 2024 champions will be spoilt for choice in their retentions when they have to make a decision. If the stress is on youth, captain Shreyas Iyer, finisher Rinku Singh, Knights’ top wicket-taker this season Varun Chakravarthy and top-order batter Venkatesh Iyer are expected to be among the preferred choices.

But it is unlikely that the franchise can ignore the contributions of West Indian duo, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell. The mystery spinner has been in prime form not just with the ball but also as an opener — 480 runs at a strike-rate of over 180.

Will KKR invest on the veteran duo who will turn 37 next season? Both Shah Rukh and Mysore have in the past made public their fondness for them considering their contribution to the franchise for a decade. It is unlikely that KKR will be able to drop them from the retention list given their performance this season.

Phil Salt, Mitchell Starc, Vaibhav Arora and Harshit Rana's show of talent can’t also be ignored. Salt has been instrumental in providing robust starts to the innings with Narine.

The pace bowling trio’s contribution have been immense and whether big-match player Starc will make himself available next season could determine his fate. The Australian, who went for a record
Rs 24.75 crore at the last auction, was non-committal after the final.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season. It’s been great... It’s a great lead-up to a World Cup. The success has been fantastic,” the left-arm pacer said.

“Next year I don’t know the schedule exactly, but as I said, I’ve enjoyed it and look forward to being back next year. Hopefully it’s in purple and gold again.”

Mumbai Indians too face a similar problem. It revolves around Rohit Sharma. Will the former captain stay for another term considering his ‘strained’ relation with Hardik Pandya?

The franchise’s disappointing finish this season could propel the management to consider harsh measures but Rohit’s credentials cannot be ignored. Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah will be their first-choice retentions if the there’s no change to the three-Indians policy.

Will Mumbai Indians use the RTM card to get back Rohit again? The Team India captain has maintained a stoic silence on the issue and hasn’t spoken his mind.

In his first news conference as India captain after the change in leadership at Mumbai Indians’ helm, Rohit had told the waiting media personnel in South Africa that he wouldn’t entertain any questions on Pandya’s elevation.

This is a development which will be closely followed since several teams will be interested in Rohit if he is back in the auction pool.

CSK’s Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravindra Jadeja and Matheesha Pathirana seem to be the obvious choice for retention but there’s a lot of uncertainty over Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The former captain too wouldn’t like the franchise to devote a significant amount of their purse by retaining him because of his dodgy knee. Dhoni is expected to clear the air in time for the franchise to make a decision.

It is in such circumstances that the RTM card assumes greater significance for the franchises. Much will depend till the BCCI discloses its blueprint.

The Board has its own views and hasn’t spilled the beans yet. An IPL governing council meeting is set to be held after the T20 World Cup where the proposal will be worked out. A final call will be taken following a discussion with all the concerned stakeholders.

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