He might be the flavour of the season, especially Down Under, but Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson is not among the five players Mumbai Indians have decided to retain for IPL-7. The defending champions have instead chosen to stick with skipper Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu. Friday is the last day for all eight franchises to submit their retention lists prior to the IPL auction scheduled to be held next month.
Two-time winners Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are the only other franchise to have taken full advantage of the five-player retention policy. Continuing to lead them will be Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni come April. The others CSK hold on to are Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Johnson might still be an integral part of the Mumbai Indians setup with the Reliance-owned franchise expected to vie for the Australian left-arm pacer by using their ‘joker’ card during the auction. The joker card system is designed to allow franchises to retain more players — whichever franchise bids the maximum for a said cricketer, the original team will have the first right of refusal.
If Sunrisers Hyderabad, for example, were to make the maximum bid of $1 million for Johnson, Mumbai will have the first right to match that bid and retain the Australian pacer.
According to the rule, a team which retains five players like Mumbai and Chennai will be allowed to play up to three ‘joker cards’ during the auction. The teams which don’t retain any player, meanwhile, will have the option of playing their ‘joker card’ five times.
In addition, Mumbai and CSK will also lose out Rs 39 crore out of their salary cap of Rs 60 crore for having retained the full quota of five players.
While Johnson was a notable omission, a number of other marquee names like Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Dale Steyn have been retained by their respective franchises. The Sunrisers will stick with star opener Shikhar Dhawan for their second season in the IPL along with South African pacer Steyn while former champions Kolkata Knight Riders are likely to retain skipper Gautam Gambhir and West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine.
Rajasthan Royals, winners of the inaugural IPL season, are expected to retain four players, which include two young Indian batsmen in Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson. Australian all-rounders Shane Watson and James Faulkner, who made a stellar impression last season, will be the others to make the cut. It has been reliably learnt that the Royals will opt for Stuart Binny, who was recently picked in the Indian ODI squad bound for New Zealand, through the help of a joker card.
Kings XI Punjab will not retain a single player from last continued…