Making a comeback after a two-year ban, Rajasthan Royals have retained Steve Smith for the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League at the player retention event in Mumbai while Kings XI Punjab went for Axar Patel as the only player retained. With the player retention deadline of 5 PM, the IPL champions of first edition have retained Smith from their previous squads. The list of the players retained were shared with the BCCI.
Rajasthan Royals will be hoping for a repeat of the first year with a strong squad around Smith. With only one retention, Rajasthan are eyeing a clean slate before the IPL 2018 auction. They were, arguably, the unluckiest team after the IPL Governing Council announced about the number of players a team could retain for IPL 2018.
Smith was an obvious choice for Royals as the Australian skipper is the only player to have given Virat Kohli competition with the willow in 2017. Smith will return to India in March to play for IPL 2018 after a rigorous Test series against South Africa. He’s proven himself to be a supremely talented batsman and a great leader after he led Rising Pune Supergiant to the runners-up spot a year earlier.
Rahane’s retention was highly unlikely as he had struggled during IPL 2017, evern after an extended run at top of the order. The Jaipur-based franchise would now have to rebuild their team from the scratch.
Meanwhile, Kings XI Punjab opted to retain Axar Patel. Kings XI Punjab director Virender Sehwag had announced prior to the player retention event in Mumbai that they will retain just one player and use the Right To Match (RTM) cards to keep players who have been incredibly consistent for the franchise.
KXIP narrowly missed out on making it through to the playoffs for IPL 2017 as they finished fifth, just two points behind Kolkata Knight Riders in the group stage. KXIP have only qualified for the playoffs twice in the 10 year history of the tournament. They made the semi-final of the inaugural edition of the tournament and finished runners-up in the 2014 edition.