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Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians confirmed the retention of India internationals Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah on Thursday.
The big news of the day saw Kolkata Knight Riders opt against re-signing longstanding captain Gautam Gambhir for the campaign. Unsurprisingly, Royal Challengers Bangalore kept India captain Virat Kohli again for the 2018 term, as well as Sputh African AB De Villiers.
The eight teams involved each confirmed the names of the players to return and those who will go to auction.
CricTracker provided the full rundown of the retentions from Mumbai:
NEWS ALERT: Here is the list of players retained by IPL franchises. #IPLRetention https://t.co/G7p50xD4wo
The IPL auction, where the rest of the squads will be put together, will be held on January 27 and 28 in Bangalore.
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While there are often few surprises when it comes to player retentions, the parting of Kolkata and Gambhir is a significant one.
The left-hander joined the Knight Riders in 2011 and has been one of the best players in the history of the franchise. Gambhir captained the team to glory in the competition in 2012 and 2014.
The Knight Riders opted to retain Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. They paid tribute to both on their Twitter account:
Part-time singer, full-time entertainer! 🎤🕺
When @Russell12A is on song, there are very few who hit the ball as cleanly as he does. 💥
THE VERSATILE ALL-ROUNDER IS A KNIGHT, AGAIN! Welcome back! 💜
#AmiKKR #KorboLorboJeetbo #VivoIPLRetention #Retained https://t.co/GqHaYdspDn
Accurate with the ball & explosive with the bat! 🏏💥
That’s our very own, @SunilPNarine74 for you! An integral part of the #KnightRiders family for the last 7 years, he will don the #KKR colours once again in @IPL! Welcome back! 💜
#AmiKKR #KorboLorboJeetbo #VivoIPLRetention https://t.co/SfAh6Sdxds
After their two-year suspension from the competition, two-time winners Chennai Super Kings will be back again this season, and they have will have some familiar faces among their ranks.
As noted above, India stars MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja are all poised to don the all-yellow again. The team posted clips on Twitter of the trio agreeing their deals, including this one of the wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni:
Chennai Super Kings @ChennaiIPL
Thakida thakida thakida Thala @msdhoni!
#SummerIsComing #WhistlePodu #goosebumps 🔥 https://t.co/hnkcXN6QOv
The Rajasthan Royals have also missed the last two seasons due to suspension, and they decided to retain just one.
They will be delighted with that solitary figure, though, as Steve Smith has been in exceptional form in all formats for a long time. The Australia skipper is part of the side that has dominated the Ashes series against England; he’s scored three centuries in four Tests.
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He’s the best batsman in the world for many at the moment, although Bangalore fans would argue that point, as Kohli is one of few who can match Smith across all formats.
As noted by ESPN Cricinfo’s Bharath Seervi, the Royal Challengers appear aware of what a precious player they have:
Bharath Seervi @SeerviBharath
Virat Kohli will be the only player to feature in IPL 2018 who has never gone into auctions.
Despite their stellar lineup, Bangalore toiled last season, failing to qualify for the playoffs. More will be expected of them this term.
Elsewhere, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have kept hold of their prized assets, with Australia batsman David Warner and Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar staying part of their squad. They were the top run-scorer and top wicket-taker in the 2017 tournament, respectively.
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Players to look out for in the auction include England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was crowned most valuable player last season for the now defunct Rising Pune Supergiant.
In other news, the Delhi Daredevils confirmed that Australian batting icon Ricky Ponting will take over as coach for the competition.