From left: Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane © IANS/ANI
From left: Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane © IANS/ANI

The IPL retention ahead of 2018 auction has hogged limelight ever since New Year. The list of retained players was released January 4. While there have been some obvious steps taken by all franchises, some big players were released as well. Gautam Gambhir, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan were not retained by their franchises — Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) respectively. Nonetheless, these players can still be acquired by their old franchises (or new ones) in the upcoming auction on January 27 and 28 at Bengaluru.

Gambhir, having led KKR to two titles, was bought for a whopping INR 11.5 crores ahead of the 2010 edition. Not only has he led from front, but has also formed a core for KKR. Under him, KKR flourished and finally came to their own. His release certainly raises a few eyebrows, but KKR must have not been willing to pay INR 15 crores for their captain.

On the other hand, Ashwin missed out on CSK’s list. With only three players allowed to be retained, the revamped CSK unit went for MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja. Having not played a limited-overs match since mid 2017, Ashwin faced the brunt of the ‘omission.’ Interestingly, Ashwin had first made a mark with CSK, in 2010.

Dhawan, who led SRH for a season, wasn’t retained either. SRH went for David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar instead. Dhawan may have another shot at representing SRH with them having three RTMs available.

Lastly, Royals went for Australia skipper Steven Smith. Many expected Rahane to be retained as well, but the right-hander missed the bus. However, Royals may still go for him in the forthcoming auction with three RTMs intact.

For those who don’t know

Retention policy

A franchise cannot retain more than three capped Indian players, two overseas players, and two uncapped Indian players in the trio.

What is RTM?

Suppose RCB hasn’t retained Kohli (or Kohli has refused to stay on). Now Kohli is back to be auctioned. Suppose Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab fight for Kohli in the auction and settle for INR 20 crores.

At this stage, RCB can claim RTM and pay exactly that amount for Kohli to acquire him. In other words, RCB do not have to outbid anyone to claim Kohli: merely matching will do. Now if KKR or KXIP or anyone else bids for more than 20, the battle continues.