By Shrikant Shankar
Chennai Super Kings surprised everyone by announcing their list of retained players for the next three seasons of the India Premier League (IPL) in the early hours on January 10, 2014. They used the full quota as they held on to five players from theit 2013 roster.. MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo are the five who will continue to don the yellow jersey. This combination gives them four Indian players and one foreigner.
Chennai were always expected to name five players in the retention. That leaves them with just one ‘rights to match’ card for the auctions in February. This means that they can certainly buy back only one of their own players after releasing him for auction by matching the highest bid he attracts in the player auctions. This leaves various possibilities, but lets us get back to that later. Firstly, let’s take a look at the five that they have retained. Some of these names were no brainers and one wasn’t surprised when the announcement was made.
Dhoni, Ashwin and Raina were always going to be there. They have been a part of the team since its inception and are the face of the Chennai team. They are the most successful team in IPL history, winning two titles and losing in three finals in the six editions so far. They would be looking for stability and a calm head to lead them forward. So, Dhoni’s inclusion need not be explained at all. Ashwin has been their best bowler for some time and Raina is the go-to man at No 3 in the batting line-up.
Chennai also retained Jadeja as the fourth Indian player. Now, he is the ‘million dollar baby’. They paid USD 2 million for his services in 2012 and were always going to retain him as well. After a slow start, Jadeja pulled off a string of match-winning performances in the IPL 2013. Chennai had a chance to select from the likes of Bravo, Michael Hussey, Faf du Plessis and AlbieMorkel for their foreign player’s slot in the retentions. They chose West Indies all-rounder Bravo. He was the leading wicket-taker in the 2013 edition with 32 wickets.
Even though Hussey is 37-years-old, he had a good chance to be picked as he has been in good form in the ongoing Big Bash League (BBL) Down Under. The Australian was the leading run-scorer with 733 runs in 2013. South Africans du Plessis and Albie Morkel could easily have been selected, but Bravo’s charisma and ability with the bat and the ball is quite unique. He is also an excellent fielder, so, he is the complete package for T20 cricket. There a few Indian players who might have felt they deserved to be in the Chennai squad. Subramaniam Badrinath, Murali Vijay and Mohit Sharma have done their bit to help Chennai be very successful, but they are open to the auction.
But here is where the twist comes and getting back to the ‘right to match’ option. Chennai have a plethora of talent in front of them and can only choose one through their ‘rights to match’. With Chennai selecting four capped Indian players, they can only use from their all-rounders or uncapped Indian players. This leaves the door open to the likes of du Plessis, AlbieMorkel and Hussey. However, they can still get a few of their players through normal bidding.
There are other teams that may not select any of their players in the retention. So, in tough situations during matches, they might not have players who have been there and done it all. Chennai will have those players, putting them in a good position already. They have gone in with experience and flair altogether. They are always the perennial favourites before every season. Irrespective of which other players they get in the auctions, their core is intact and a strong one at that.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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