Only AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Chris Morris (Delhi Daredevils) have been retained by their IPL teams ahead of the 2018 season.
The rest of the South African contingent – such as Kagiso Rabada of the Daredevils, and David Miller and Hashim Amla of the Kings XI Punjab – will once again take their chances in the grand auction, scheduled for 27-28 January, although their teams may use the ‘right to match’ privilege, which enables them to trump any bid for those players.
Others who featured last year were Tabraiz Shamsi (Royal Challengers), Imran Tahir and Faf du Plessis (of the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant).
Rabada failed to live up to expectations in his debut season last year; which is not surprising given the intensity and culture-shock of the event. He picked up just six wickets in as many matches and gave away 55 runs. The South African pacer bowled well in patches but overall had a disappointing season.
The massively popular De Villiers was always safe, even though he, too, had a low-key season. He scored only 216 runs in nine matches with an average of 27, hitting only one half-century, and a top score of 89. Nevertheless, he will be reunited with his great mate Virat Kohli as the Challengers look to rebuild after finishing last in 2017.
Less surprising was the Challengers’ axing of West Indian giant Chris Gayle, whose inconsistency and injury problems cost him. He accumulated only 200 runs in nine matches, at an average of 22.22.
The Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are making a comeback to the league after two years of suspension due to spot-fixing allegations. Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja will join MS Dhoni in the Chennai squad. The Royals have retained only Australia captain Steve Smith.
The player retention is the first step towards the franchises reforming their squads ahead of the 2018 IPL player auction. After the 2017 IPL, the 10th year of the tournament, the existing squads were disbanded, apart from the players retained by the teams.
The IPL set the salary cap to form a squad for 2018 at approx US$12.4-million. A franchise is allowed to pick up to five of its existing players through a combination of retention ahead of the auction and the right-to-match card during the auction.