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Delhi dump devils

Saturday, 11 January 2014 - 12:56pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
While Delhi springs surprise, Mumbai Indians, like other teams, play according to script.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians, two-time former victors Chennai Super Kings and inaugural edition winners Rajasthan Royals have retained five players each, but the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not!’ moments of the day were provided by Kings XI Punjab who persisted with Manan Vohra and Delhi Daredevils who ignored Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Kevin Pietersen and Morne Morkel.

Opener Vohra did nothing of note last season: he tallied 161 runs in 12 games with a top score of 43. And he was understandably surprised when a member of the team management rang up to convey the good news.

“I am feeling good,” a delighted Vohra told dna from Vadodara where he is representing Punjab in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Jammu & Kashmir. “They must have seen something in me. That’s why they have retained me,” he added.

There were no surprises from the Mumbai camp who retained skipper Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu. Ashes hero Mitchell Johnson, wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and hard-hitting opener Dwayne Smith may consider themselves unlucky, but there is no reason why Mumbai can’t buy them at the auction in Bangalore (February 12 & 13).

Harbhajan’s selection may come as a shocker to many, but truth is he enjoys the confidence of the Ambanis as well as John Wright, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar who form the core group of the franchise.

With their nucleus intact and just Rs 21 crore and one right-to-match (joker) card in hand, Mumbai will not have the luxury of investing on too many superstars. A Corey Anderson here, a Trent Boult there and they can focus on the lesser-known players.

Chennai, too, have retained the core of the team by holding on to skipper MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Dwayne Bravo. Openers M Vijay and Michael Hussey were ignored.  So are the Royals who have retained Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson and Stuart Binny. Each of these players has been in very good form and armed with the brains of Rahul Dravid, they will be a force to reckon with.

So what if Delhi didn’t retain anybody? They have a whopping Rs 60 crore to start afresh. That they finished at the bottom of the heap in 2013 may have prompted the management to take this route.
With Gary Kirsten at the helm of affairs, Viv Richards around and three ‘joker’ cards at their disposal, Delhi are certain to have a proper plan in place.

Kolkata have retained Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine, leaving them with Rs 38 crore and two right-to-match cards. Ditto with Sunrisers Hyderabad who held on to Shikhar Dhawan and Dale Steyn.

Back to Vohra and he may not have set the stage on fire during IPL debut in 2013, but the 20-year-old has had a decent run in domestic cricket this season. In five matches prior to the Ranji knockouts, he scored 363 runs at 40.33 with a best of 187 against Jharkhand.

Now that Vohra has been retained, a lot will be expected of him. So is he feeling that extra bit of pressure?  “Honestly, I am not looking it that way. It’s a responsibility and I am up for the challenge,” he said.

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