Retaining players is certainly a tricky affair, and every season, the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises ensure that they don’t let go their key players.
In the end, some moves clicks, some backfire, but the process, in a whole, is a learning curve for the cricketers, the franchise and of course for the fans.
In January this year, the eight franchises had decided to retain some of its players, who they thought were the key men. But have the retained players delivered in the first half of the star-studded league?
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS decided to retain three of its old warhorses — Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja .
That move has mostly worked for the side, which returned to the IPL fold after a two-year suspension. While Dhoni, the leader, has fared well with the bat — amassing 286 runs in eight outings, Raina, who suffered a bit of injury, too had a good outing, scoring 204 runs in six games. However, Jadeja has disappointed as the all-rounder could only manage 47 runs in seven games, and even failed to be effective with the ball, scalping just one wicket.
DELHI DAREDEVILS , too, had retained three players in Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Chris Morris .
While Iyer — who has now been promoted as the skipper — has had a successful season so far, amassing 244 runs in seven outings, an injury has ruled Morris out of the IPL. Before that the South African all-rounder had scored 46 runs and had taken three wickets in the four matches that he featured in. The other retainer, Pant, has so far scored 227 in seven games and has bagged three catches.
If Delhi and Chennai had favourable results with the retained players, KINGS XI PUNJAB wouldn’t be too happy with its old-timer Axar Patel . The spinner was given just two games, in which he could only scalp a couple of wickets and contributed one with the bat.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS has been quite successful with its retainers Andre Russell and Sunil Narine .
The Kolkata franchise has pinned hopes on Narine and he has delivered the goods, scoring 161 runs in eight games, and has also picked up eight wickets. The other star, Lynn, coming in from an injury, has amassed 248 runs in eight games.
While the retention has worked for the Kolkata outfit, the worst hit team has been RAJASTHAN ROYALS , who had retained Steven Smith and even named him as the skipper of the side. But with Cricket Australia (CA) banning him for a year following his involvement in the ball-tampering controversy last month, the Aussie missed out on the tournament.
It has been quite a similar story for SUNRISERS HYDERABAD , which had retained David Warner as its skipper. But the ball-tampering saga changed the entire equation as a one-year ban meant, Warner was unavailable for the entire tournament. Its other retained player, Bhuvneshwar Kumar , however, has scalped six wickets in four matches.
The star-studded, ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE , had retained Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Sarfaraz Khan . While Kohli has amassed 317 runs in seven games, de Villiers has scored 280 runs in six games. But the third retained player, Sarfaraz’s performance has been abysmal. In the three matches that he has played, the youngster could only score 11 runs, which forced the team management to bench him for the subsequent fixtures.
The defending champion, MUMBAI INDIANS , retained Rohit Sharma , Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah for this season. While skipper Rohit has scored 196 in seven matches, Bumrah has scalped eight wickets in seven matches and has also contributed six runs with the bat. Pandya has scalped eight wickets in six games, but could only amass 61 runs with the bat.
With the league hitting the mid-way stage, the retained players would be hoping to turn the tide in the second leg. After all, in a fast and furious format like the IPL, a slip-up could be dangerous.