MUMBAI: Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Shane Warne and Shane Watson are now part of the list of 'marquee' cricketers who are not likely to figure in the player auctions next year.
Royal Challengers Bangalore has retained Kohli, Knight Riders have held back Gayle, Mumbai Indians have opted for Harbhajan, Pollard and Malinga while Rajasthan Royals-now back in the picture-have signed up with Warne and Watson.
Interestingly, till Tuesday evening, Delhi Daredevils had nothing to say about Gautam Gambhir and Deccan Chargers had not shown any interest in either Adam Gilchrist or Rohit Sharma. While Chargers remained unavailable for comment, B Vanchi, director of cricket operations for Daredevils said: "As of now we have only signed Virender Sehwag."
Sehwag, along with Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, M Vijay and Albie Morkel were the first set of cricketers to be retained. Royals were emphatic about Warne and Watson coming on board. "We're glad to have them back. Warne's captaincy in IPL has been the flavour of the tournament. Watson has been invaluable in his contribution as allrounder. As of now, we can confirm that the two are on board," Royals' chief marketing officer Raghu Iyer told TOI.
Meanwhile, the Knights have opted to hold back Gayle, the swashbuckling opener who seemed to have enjoyed his stay with the Kolkata franchise despite the team's awful showing in 2009 and 2010.
Mumbai Indians had a problem of plenty even as they settled for Harbhajan, Pollard and Malinga. Among others, Zaheer Khan, Saurabh Tiwary, Dwayne Bravo and JP Duminy were players who could've been contenders if not for the four-player (with maximum three Indians) retention rule.
Malinga for his bowling in the death overs, Pollard for his batting strike rate, Harbhajan as one of the best off-spinners were the best possible choices. As for Kohli, he seems to be the hottest property ahead of IPL 4.
So much so that most franchisees are eagerly waiting to see if the Delhi batsman makes it to the auction next year. And that is precisely the reason why Challengers have decided to retain Kohli.
Interestingly, Challengers were not supporting the idea of player retention, when it was first suggested to the governing council.