With the Indian Premier League (IPL) set for a major revamp with the inclusion of two new teams and a mega auction, which is just around the corner, franchises would look to build a strong squad that would rally around the retained players.
As the retention slabs were fixed, some teams were forced to release their key players to cut costs but could eye them again as the auctions present an opportunity to avail their services for a cheaper price.
Ahead of the IPL 2022 auctions, here is a look at five released Indian players who could be bought back by the teams they plied their trade for in 2021.
Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians)
Ishan Kishan narrowly missed out on a retention spot, with Mumbai Indians picking Suryakumar Yadav ahead of him. However, the 23-year-old’s 1133 runs at a healthy strike rate of 138 for the Indians – including a stellar 2020 season where he was their top-scorer with 516 runs – might secure him a fifth season with the five-time champion.
Despite a lacklustre 2021 season, the explosive southpaw signed off with two scorching fifties while opening the batting, with the second one coming in just 16 balls in a rampaging 32-ball 84 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. His ability to double up as a floater-finisher might lead to a bidding-war at the auctions and Mumbai could see itself dishing out significantly more than the INR 6.2 crore for which it acquired him ahead of the 2018 season.
Shardul Thakur (Chennai Super Kings)
Thakur has worked the cricketing world into a frenzy of late with his all-round abilities in the international arena. His match-winning twin fifties at the Oval in September 2021 and a couple of gritty rear-guards in the first two ODIs against South Africa this month have marked his evolution as batter and complemented his wicket-taking abilities.
During his stint with the Chennai Super Kings since its 2018 comeback season, Thakur has scalped 55 wickets at just under nine runs an over while not getting much of a run with the bat. More importantly, he was the Super Kings’ leading wicket-taker in 2021 and joint-third overall and turned the final on its head by picking the key wickets of Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana in the same over. While teams are expected to place hefty bids for the 30-year-old, CSK would do well to retain his services and build on its arsenal of all-rounders that includes Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali.
Deepak Chahar (Chennai Super Kings)
The right-arm medium pacer has been a vital cog in Chennai Super Kings’ two title wins in the last four seasons with 58 wickets at a frugal 7.7 runs an over for the men in yellow. Primarily an exponent of the new ball in the Powerplay overs, Chahar made his IPL debut under M S Dhoni’s tutelage at Rising Pune Supergiants before joining the Super Kings in 2018 where he honed his skills under the same captain.
His newfound prowess with the bat lower down the order, as seen in a couple of ODIs in Sri Lanka and South Africa, might lead to a rise in Chahar’s stocks at the auctions. The 29-year-old found considerable success in 2021, picking two match-defining four-wicket hauls and ending the season with 14 wickets. Considering Dhoni’s success in bringing the best out of the 29-year-old, the defending champion may want to secure the latter’s services yet again in a bid to extend its success with the ball in the Powerplay which so often sets the tone in T20 cricket.
Devdutt Padikkal (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The 21-year-old took the IPL by storm in his debut season in 2020, top-scoring for Royal Challengers Bangalore with 473 runs and bagging the Emerging Player of the Year award. He continued in 2021 in a similar vein, albeit with less consistency, compiling 411 runs which included a stellar 51-ball hundred – the fastest by an uncapped player in the league.
A prolific run-getter in the domestic circuit, the classy southpaw has developed a penchant for shifting gears to complement his sound technique, ensuring strong starts for RCB. The franchise would have considered itself lucky to have secured Padikkal’s services for a mere INR 20 lakh ahead of the 2020 season but would need to spend a lot more for its opening mainstay at the auctions this year. A young and skilful Indian batter is a prized possession at the IPL and who could know that better than former skipper Virat Kohli.
Avesh Khan (Delhi Capitals)
After having debuted in the league in 2017, Khan’s breakthrough came in IPL 2021 for Delhi Capitals when he ended as the season’s second-highest wicket-taker and his team’s wrecker-in-chief. Coming in as the first change in a lethal bowling line-up comprising Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, Khan racked up 24 wickets and kept a check on the run-scoring with his guile and variations. His scalps in the season are almost evenly distributed across Powerplay, middle and death overs – another testament to his versatility and skill.
His stellar 2021 campaign earned him a maiden India call-up for the T20I series against New Zealand and was recently named in the squad for the series against West Indies. While he is yet to make his international debut, the Capitals might be tempted to rope him in again – having bought him for INR 70 lakh ahead of IPL 2018 - and develop a menacing Nortje-Khan hunting pair.