IPL 2018 Retentions: Decoding Royal Challengers Bangalore's plans
Ever since the IPL governing body laid out the player retention policies in front of the franchises back in December, the rumour mill has been in overdrive. It wasn't until the evening of 4th January that all those rumours were laid to rest as each franchise released its respective list of retained players.
While Mumbai Indians went ahead with the expected names of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah, Chennai Super Kings followed suit by opting to retain MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja. Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, retained only two of their players - David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and so did Kolkata Knight Riders, who made Andre Russell and Sunil Narine their two retentions.
Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab have decided to go ahead with a near-clean slate into the auctions and have retained one player each - Steve Smith and Axar Patel respectively. What has surprised most of the pundits and fans, though, are the retentions of Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
DD were expected to go ahead with just the one, or maximum two, retention(s) but the Ricky Ponting-led team management decided to have three players in Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris and Shreyas Iyer for the upcoming season. At the same time, RCB did retain three players, two of which were automatic choices in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, but instead of going for the usual suspects in Yuzvendra Chahal, Chris Gayle or KL Rahul, they chose to hold on to the 20-year-old Sarfaraz Khan.
Here we'll be decoding why the RCB team management decided to go in with these three players and how much they'll cost the Bangalore-based franchise.
Why Sarfaraz Khan?
The 20-year-old explosive batsman was a star for the Virat Kohli-led side in the 2015 IPL, where in 13 matches, Sarfaraz scored 111 runs at a strike rate of 156.33, putting up an exhibition of 360-degree batting. However, in the next season, he was ousted from the squad on fitness grounds after five appearances and few predicted that he'll be retained by RCB.
A couple of factors worked in Sarfaraz's favour here.
The IPL retention guidelines had clearly stated that if a franchise chose to retain three players, it would cost them a total of INR 33 Crores - Rs. 15, 11 and 7 Crores respectively for the first, second and third player. Moreover, if the third player retained is uncapped then he'd cost just INR 3 Crores, instead of 7.
As Virat Kohli was already on a payroll of Rs. 17 Crores, it was given that RCB won't be handing their skipper a reduction, which meant they'll be suffering a deduction of INR 35 Crores (extra 2 Crores) from their auction purse unlike the rest of the sides who retained three personnel.
Therefore, in order to avoid a situation where they go in the auction with the smallest purse, the RCB think-tank opted to retain an uncapped player in Sarfaraz and in turn, saved INR 2 Crores instead of losing. In doing so, the Bangalore-based franchise became the only side to hold on to an uncapped player.
Now among the four teams who have retained three players - CSK, MI, DD and RCB - the latter will go into the auction with the heaviest purse. While the former three carry INR 47 Crores each, RCB will have INR 49 Crores to spend.
On top of all the financial permutations and combinations, Sarfaraz brings with him the ability to play explosive cricket and even win matches for the side. In the 29 T20s that the 20-year-old has played in during his brief career, he has scored 332 runs at a strike rate of 153.70.
On the other hand, the retentions of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were expected and deservedly so. They are two of world's best batsmen and have been involved in quite a few match-winning partnerships for RCB. The franchise owners can only hope that they continue the good work in the upcoming seasons.
RCB Auction Purse left: INR 49 Crores (80-31)
Players retained: Virat Kohli (INR 17 Crores), AB de Villiers (INR 11 Crores), Sarfaraz Khan (INR 3 Crores)
A few big names who have been left out of the retention-list are Chris Gayle, Yuzvendra Chahal and KL Rahul. While the former's recent form has been dodgy, Chahal and KL are currently playing the best T20 cricket of their lives. While the leggie is a proven match-winner in the shortest format of the game, the right-handed batsman can partner Kohli well at the top of the order and has a fair bit of experience of playing at the biggest of levels.
Therefore, in all probability, the franchise would be willing to use the Right to Match (RTM) card for these two and build a strong core around which the rest of the team will revolve. Moreover, they'd want to get a quality pacer and a match-winning all-rounder on board as well.