Royal Challengers Bangalore retained their talismanic skipper Virat Kohli for a record-breaking Rs 17 crore as the Indian Premier League player retention deadline ended on Thursday.
Kohli, who has been with RCB since IPL's inception in 2008, broke the record of Rs 16 crore for which Kings XI Punjab had bought Yuvraj Singh two seasons ago. Star-studded Royal Challengers, three-time runners-up, expectedly retained fan favourite A B de Villiers for Rs 11 crore but caused a major surprise by keeping Sarfaraz Khan (Rs 1.75 crore).
Many had expected the franchise to retain ace leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal but RCB chose to pin their faith on the young Sarfaraz.
"We are pleased to retain Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Sarfaraz Khan," Amrit Thomas, chairman of RCB, said in a statement. "Virat has been a part of Royal Challengers Bangalore since the inception of the league, and is the team's captain - on and off the field. The camaraderie and teamwork between Virat and AB de Villiers have been the backbone of the team for several seasons and we want to build on that. Sarfaraz is one of the players we believe will rise to great heights, not just in the IPL but in world cricket," he added.
Two-time champions Chennai Super Kings, returning to the fold after a two-year ban, retained their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Rs 15 crore), ace performer Suresh Raina (Rs 11 crore) and left-arm spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (Rs 7 crore).
Defending champions Mumbai Indians, the most successful franchise with three titles, also retained the services of their skipper Rohit Sharma (Rs 15 crore). The franchise also pinned their hopes on fast-rising all-rounder Hardik Pandya (Rs 11 crore) and Jasprit Bumrah (Rs 7 crore), one of the best death-over bowlers in the world.
"Rohit and MI are synonymous while Hardik and Bumrah are special for us. We are happy that we were able to retain some players. Hardik and Bumrah are pillars of our franchise," MI supremo Akash Ambani said.
Under-performing Delhi Daredevils pinned their hopes on two promising batsmen - Rishabh Pant (Rs 8 crore) and Shreyas Iyer (Rs 7 crore). They also retained all-rounder Chris Morris (Rs 7.1 crore).
Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the heavyweight teams, chose mystery spinner Sunil Narine (Rs 8.5 crore) and fast-bowling all-rounder Andre Russell (Rs 7 crore) but surprisingly left out captain Gautam Gambhir.
Sunrisers Hyderabad also went down the predicted road by retaining skipper David Warner (Rs 12 crore) and ace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Rs 8.5 crore). Inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals retained Steve Smith (Rs 12 crore).