As expected, Indian Premier League franchises have retained their top-performers for the seventh edition of the tournament. There were no surprises when Chennai Super Kings retained skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina, Royal Challengers Bangalore held on to Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, Rajasthan Royals kept their stars Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane while Mumbai Indians retained Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard. The rules, of course, will force several top performers like Mumbai's Mitchell Johnson and Pragyan Ojha into the auction pool. In a 'game' limited by numbers, there will always be 'winners' and 'losers'. For example, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen and David Warner will be the biggest losers after Delhi Daredevils decided to axe their entire team. The Delhi team management explaining the decision said in a press statement: "It was the unanimous decision of the management with the focus of building a fresh team that the fans would be proud of."
Every team was allowed to retain a maximum of five players. Mumbai, Chennai and Rajasthan opted to make full use of their retention quota. The three teams have spent Rs 39 crores out of a total budget of Rs 60 crores -- Rs 12.5 crores was allocated for the first player retained, 9.5 for second, 7.5 for third, 5.5 for fourth and 3.5 for fifth. This means the remaining 22 players will now have to be bought from a 'paltry' remaining sum of Rs 21 crore!
Every team has gone in with a strategy. Teams like Royal Challengers Bangalore - who have retained three power-hitters -- seemed to focus on keeping more in their purse for the February 12-13 auctions. The option of using the 'joker card(s)' will also be crucial.