IPL: Who may retain whom?

With the IPL governing council allowing every franchise to retain up to five players by virtue of a combination of player retention and right to match, Sportstar takes a look at some stars who could possibly be retained by the franchises.

A file picture of the IPL Trophy on the eve of the Indian 2017 final between Rising Pune Supergiant and Mumbai Indians at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad, in May 2017.   -  K. R. Deepak

With the IPL governing council allowing every franchise to retain up to five players by virtue of a combination of player retention and right to match, Sportstar takes a look at some stars who could possibly be retained by the franchises.

Delhi Daredevils

Pat Cummins: The Australian pace spearhead topped the bowling charts for Delhi last season with 15 wickets from 12 matches at an economy rate of 8.07. An incisive new-ball bowler, he can run through the opposition top-order with pace and bounce.

Zaheer Khan: One of India's greatest fast bowlers, Zaheer led Delhi's charge last season. As someone who can swing the new ball and reverse the old, the 39-year-old lapped up 10 wickets from 11 matches at an economy rate of 7.79 and will be an asset on the flat sub-continent wickets.

Sanju Samson: The Kerala batsman made heads turn in IPL 2017 with 386 runs from 14 matches at a strike rate of 141.39. A key contributor to Kerala's fortunes at this year's Ranji Trophy, the 23-year-old may be seen sporting Delhi colours next year.

Rishabh Pant: Another up and coming star, Pant's ability to keep wickets and use the long handle to good effect makes him an exciting pick for Delhi. The 20-year-old was second only to Samson last year in terms of runs scored, having racked up 366 from 14 matches at a strike rate of 165.61.

Chris Morris: A bowling all-rounder, Morris can — on his day — snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with his fearless batting in the lower-order. He racked up 154 runs at a strike rate of 163.82 last season and was the second highest wicket-taker for Delhi, with 12 scalps at an economy rate of 7.74. Delhi might want to retain his services for the next season as well.

Kings XI Punjab

Glenn Maxwell: A batsman tailor-made for the shortest format, Maxwell's brisk scoring rate coupled with his ability to conjure unconventional shots under pressure, make him an exciting prospect. A tally of 310 runs at an astounding strike-rate of 173.18 should put him on top of Punjab's retention list.

Hashim Amla: With teams allowed only two foreign players as per the new retention policy, Punjab might be hardpressed to pick between an out-and-out hard-hitter and its highest run scorer from last season, Hashim Amla. The South African hammered 420 runs from 10 matches at a strike rate of 145.83, scoring two hundred and as many fifties while at it.

However, there are chances the franchise may instead go for Amla's compatriot David Miller, who has been with the Kings for a while.

Sandeep Sharma: Punjab's leading wicket-taker from IPL 2017, Sharma's 17 scalps at an economy rate of 8.29 would've raised his stocks with the team management and the owners.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Gautam Gambhir: The dynamic southpaw has been at the centre of Kolkata's impressive run over the last few years, his 498 runs at a strike-rate of 128.02 last season, responsible for setting the tone both while batting first and during a chase. Having led the Knight Riders to the silverware twice, the 36-year-old should be spearheading the pack next year as well.

Robin Uthappa: As a wicket-keeper batsman, Robin Uthappa has formed a formidable opening pair with captain Gambhir, and his 388 runs last year at an attractive strike rate of 165.10 should see him retain his place in the squad.

Yusuf Pathan: A hard-hitting batsman and off-spinner, Pathan has often been captain Gambhir's go-to bowler in crunch situations. His ability to pick wickets and score runs quickly should see him sport the Knight Riders jersey next year too.

Sunil Narine: The Caribbean off-spinner has been one of the major architects of Kolkata Knight Riders' two title victories in 2012 and 2014, and despite having an average outing last season — 10 wickets at an economy rate of 6.98 — the Shahrukh Khan-owned franchise would want him in its ranks.

Chris Woakes: Plying his trade in the Ashes currently, the English seamer was Kolkata's highest wicket-getter last season — his 17 wickets at an economy rate of 8.77 — defying the notion that fast bowlers tend to be ineffective on flat, Indian tracks.

Mumbai Indians

Rohit Sharma: A player who oozes batting talent at the crease, Sharma's 333 runs at a strike rate of 121.97 was one of the driving forces behind Mumbai Indians' title-winning run last season.

Jasprit Bumrah: Laced with an unorthodox bowling action and a rare ability to deliver yorkers at will, the 24-year-old paceman was Mumbai's top bowler last season with 20 wickets at an economy rate of 7.41.

Kieron Pollard: Widely considered a limited-overs specialist, Pollard's 385 runs at a strike-rate of 139.49 was instrumental in Mumbai winning the title last season. The fearsome hitting power when combined with a knack to pick wickets with a change of pace, make Pollard a tantalising prospect for MI.

Lasith Malinga: Though in the twilight of his illustrious career, Malinga's searing inswinging yorkers continue to give many a batsman a hard time at the crease. And despite claiming only 11 wickets at an economy rate of 8.52 last season, the veteran new-ball bowler would be hoping to share his knowledge and experience with the young turks in the Mumbai camp next year too.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru

Virat Kohli: Widely considered as one of the best batting talents of this era, the Indian captain has carved a reputation for big hitting in the IPL — so much so that a tally of 308 runs at a strike-rate of 122.22 last season — appears average by his standards. However, fluent in scoring all around the ground, Kohli is arguably one of the best chasers in international cricket today and Bengaluru would be raring to retain the services of its feisty skipper.

Kedar Jadhav: The diminutive, attacking middle-order batsman was RCB's second highest run-scorer last season, having raised 267 runs at a strike-rate of 143.54. His exploits in off-spin make him a handy prospect in the shorter format.

Chris Gayle: The tall Jamaican has made a living out of destroying bowling attacks with effortless ease, and despite having a below-par IPL 2017 — 200 runs at a strike-rate of 122.69 — his free-stroking, an aggressive approach should be enough to earn him another contract with the RCB.

AB de Villiers: A batsman with breathtaking batting ability and a fielder with astonishing reflexes, de Villiers' exploits with the willow have earned him an enviable fan following in the IPL. His striking power helped him rack up 216 runs last season at a strike-rate of 132.51 and RCB will do well to have the Protean in its ranks when the next season gets underway.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Shikhar Dhawan: A flamboyant stroke-maker, Dhawan's ability to take the attack to the opposition bowlers has made him a star performer in the T20 format. The dynamic southpaw made 479 runs in IPL 2017 at a strike-rate of 127.39, and along with Australia opener David Warner, got Hyderabad off to flying starts on multiple occasions.

Yuvraj Singh: When he hits them, they stay hit! Yuvraj's ability to hit the ball clean and long makes him a dangerous proposition in limited-overs cricket. And while 252 runs at a strike rate of 142.37 may belie his match-winning capability, Hyderabad would want to retain his services for the next season.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: His ability to swing the new ball and even make it hold the line occasionally, propelled Kumar to the top of the bowling charts last season — 26 wickets at an economy rate of 7.05. Given Kumar's control over the swing and street smartness, Hyderabad wouldn't want to part ways with the UP pacer.

David Warner: One of the most destructive hitters in world cricket today, Warner's 641 runs at a strike-rate of 141.81 took IPL 2017 by storm. Known for his assertive approach with the bat, the franchise would want the New South Wales star to lead it in next year's IPL.

Rashid Khan: The wily leg-spinner from Afghanistan earned widespread applause last season, having picked up 17 wickets at an economy rate of 6.62. While he may not be a big turner of the cricket ball, his knack of bowling quicker through the air often catches batters by surprise. Needless to say, the 19-year-old will be on Hyderabad's radar.

Chennai Super Kings

M. S. Dhoni: Arguably one of the best finishers in modern day cricket, Dhoni's unorthodoxy — while batting and captaining — has earned him a cult following in the game. And having led CSK to two titles and four runner-up finishes, it'll be a surprise if Chennai doesn't go after its most prized asset. A tally of 290 runs at a strike-rate of 116 during his time with the Rising Pune Supergiant last season may not do justice to his hitting prowess, but his experience of bailing his side out of choppy waters continue to hold him in good stead.

Ravichandran Ashwin: India's spin spearhead may have skipped this year's IPL but his flight and guile and ability to dictate terms in crunch situations make him a valuable currency in the shortest format. And his impressive performances for the Chennai franchise have played a pivotal role in shaping the bowler that he is today — expect to see him smeared in yellow when the next season starts.

Suresh Raina: An ability to hit the ball cleanly, a wide gamut of shots, electric on the field — all traits that make Raina a sure-shot success in T20 cricket. Raina was one of the consistent performers for Chennai before the BCCI imposed a ban on the team. Leading the Gujarat Lions last season, Raina hammered 442 runs at a strike-rate of 143.97 and the UP southpaw would be hoping to ply his trade with CSK when the next season starts.

Faf du Plessis: Rated as one of South Africa's finest batsmen of the modern era, du Plessis' ability to mix aggression with caution makes him an alluring prospect in T20 cricket. The Protean has 1295 runs at a strike-rate of 127.96 in the IPL so far, and having represented Rising Pune Supergiant last season, is eligible for retention by his former employer.

Dwayne Bravo: Although injury kept Bravo out of action from this year's IPL, 1238 runs at a strike-rate of 125.94 and 122 wickets at an economy rate of 8.15 hint at a wealth of experience when it comes to the IPL. Having carved a niche following during his time with CSK, the West Indian all-rounder would be hoping he wears the yellow jersey the next time he displays his skills at the IPL.

Rajasthan Royals

Steve Smith: His ability to face spin and pace with equal efficiency has made him one the top batters in international cricket today. Quick off his feet, Smith led Pune to the finals of IPL 2017, having helped its cause with 472 runs at a strike-rate of 121.96. An astute cricketing brain makes him an automatic choice for Royals.

Ajinkya Rahane: Rahane's 382 runs at a strike-rate of 118.26 helped Pune make it to the IPL final last season. And while the Mumbai batsman is going through a lean patch in Tests, his prowess with the willow and safe hands in the slips mean Rajasthan would be eyeing a contract renewal.