New Delhi: MS Dhoni will be back in the familiar yellow colours of Chennai Super Kings when the IPL XI begins in April. CSK, back after serving a two-year ban, retained Dhoni on Thursday.
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians retained their captains Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma respectively. Rajasthan Royals retained Australia captain Steve Smith while Sunrisers Hyderabad retained David Warner, who has led them superbly in the last two seasons.
The biggest surprise was RCB’s decision to pick uncapped hard-hitting batsman Sarfaraz Khan as their third player after Virat and AB de Villiers, thereby releasing Chris Gayle. Sarfaraz was injured and missed the entire last season.
Kolkata Knight Riders too sprung a surprise when they chose not to retain skipper Gautam Gambhir under whom they won two IPL titles. KKR opted to retain Sunil Narine. The Trinidadian is their premier spin bowler and last year shone in the role of a pinch hitter at the top of the order. Andre Russell, the hard-hitting medium-pace bowling all-rounder, who has served a one-year doping ban, was KKR’s second retention.
India all-rounder Hardik Pandya was the second player retained by Mumbai, and Jasprit Bumrah third. Bumrah has been India’s best bowler in one-dayers and T20s ever since making his debut in 2016.
“Rohit is synonymous with the Mumbai Indians and Pandya and Bumrah are our two finds and they are now the two pillars of the Indian team and the Mumbai Indians team,” said Akash Ambani.
Delhi Daredevils’s first retention was South African all-rounder Chris Morris. Daredevils also reposed their faith in youngster Rishabh Pant. Dhoni is the current No 1 keeper-batsman in limited overs format in the Indian team and Pant is tipped to take over from him in future. The third player Daredevils retained was Shreyas Iyer.
Kings XI Punjab chose to retain only all-rounder Axar Patel. IPL Governing Council chairman Rajeev Shukla gave the event a miss. From the BCCI, acting secretary Amitabh Choudary, treasurer Anirudh Choudary and CEO Rahul Johri attended the event where representatives of all the franchises were present.
Ricky Ponting has joined Delhi Daredevils as their head coach. Ponting was earlier associated with Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians. Ponting will replace Rahul Dravid as Delhi’s chief mentor. Dravid, who is the coach of the Indian under-19 team, had withdrawn due to conflict of interest.