Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli. Image Credit: AP

The Indian Premier League deadline for player retention is upon the eight franchises once again as they take the big decisions on which key players to keep on their books and whom to release. And when you look at both the Indian and foreign stars it is a tough task for pretty much all of the teams.

Every franchise had the right to retain four players — a maximum of three Indian players and one foreign player — and, mind you, if you have to build a team for the future, it’s not easy to let go of a few of your main players due to the maximum cap one franchise could retain.

Just to quickly recap, defending champions Chennai Super Kings retained MS Dhoni — not at all surprisingly — along with Ravindra Jadeja, whom they feel will be their future captain. CSK also held onto young prospect Ruturaj Gaikwad and Moeen Ali, their foreign player who can add value to the team both with the bat and ball.

Delhi Capitals had the biggest headache in selecting Rishabh Pant ahead of Shreyas Iyer, but they went with Pant because of his wicketkeeping. They held on to dashing opener Prithvi Shaw and all-rounder Axar Patel, but had to let go Shikhar Dhawan and Ravi Ashwin. In the foreign players they decided to retain Anrich Nortje ahead of Kagiso Rabada, which was a big call and their co-owner Parth Jindal did not mince any words saying this policy of IPL of changing players after three years takes away all the hard work which a franchise has built on making a team for the long term.

Kolkata Knight Riders went with two foreign players in Andre Russel and Sunil Narine along with two young Indian players in Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy. They let go their captain Eoin Morgan, who had taken them to the finals this year. Their CEO Venky Mysore said letting go of Shubman Gill was a big call. Five-time Champion Mumbai Indians kept their faith in Rohit Sharma as captain, along with fast-bowler Jasprit Bumrah, and went in for Suryakumar Yadav ahead of Hardik Pandya which was a big call. They picked Kieron Pollard as their foreign player to ensure that the core team is built around the above experienced players.

Punjab Kings had to let go KL Rahul as he had decided to move on, but kept faith in Mayank Agarwal and Arshdeep Singh.

Rajasthan Royals retained Sanju Samson as their captain along with Yashaswi Jaisawal and went ahead with Jos Buttler has their foreign player.

The tough call was to let Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer go.

Royal Challengers Bangalore decided to keep faith in their former captain Virat Kohli, along with Mohammed Siraj and foreign player Glenn Maxwell, but to let go of Yuzvendra Chahal was bitter pill to swallow.

The biggest surprise was Sunrisers Hyderabad who released Rashid Khan, who wanted to get a better deal. They decided to keep faith in Kane Williamson and two Indians youngsters Abdul Samad and Umran Malik.

The mega auction is going to happen in February — with two new teams added in Lucknow and Ahmedabad. It will be a dogfight between the 10 franchises to pick the right players to make a team which has a mix of Indian and foreign players.

When I spoke to Stephan Fleming, the head coach of Chennai Super Kings, he was very clear that to build a good franchise, you need to build loyalty of players. That will happen when players play for the same franchise for minimum five years.