The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 mega auction is likely to be held in January next year. Before the auction, the eight existing franchises can retain a maximum of four players – three Indians and one overseas or two Indians and two overseas. The deadline for retaining players for the current franchises is November 30. After that, the two new franchises Ahmedabad and Lucknow will get a chance to pick three players before the auction. The window for the two teams will be from December 1 to December 25. With reports of likely player retention coming in, we take a look at six players who are likely to play for the Lucknow franchise.

KL Rahul (likely captain): Team India batter KL Rahul, who had two prolific seasons with Punjab Kings (PBKS) as a batter in IPL 2020 and 2021, is unlikely to stay with the franchise. Despite his best efforts, he has been unable to inspire the team. It looks all but certain that Rahul and PBKS will go their separate ways. As per some media reports, the new Lucknow franchise is already in talks with Rahul to bring him on board as captain. Given his experience and form, there is a decent chance of him being named leader.

Suryakumar Yadav: He has been a key figure in Mumbai Indians’ (MI) success over the last few seasons. However, Suryakumar Yadav had a forgettable IPL 2021 but for the one innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) towards the end. MI would still have liked to retain him, but the problem is that they have too many options. Rohit Sharma is almost certain to be retained as captain, so is the team’s lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah. Then, they have Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard and Trent Boult among others. Given the circumstances, it seems even Hardik Pandya might not be retained. MI’s loss could be Lucknow’s gain.

Shikhar Dhawan: The veteran batter has been in wonderful form for Delhi Capitals (DC) over the last couple of seasons. Opening the innings, he has played some fine knocks. He deserves to be retained. However, like MI, DC too are spoilt for choice. They are set to go for Rishabh Pant as captain as well as the younger opener Prithvi Shaw, Axar Patel and Anrich Nortje. At the same time, Dhawan remains a highly valuable player with his experience and skills. There is no reason for Lucknow not to target him.

Rahul Tripathi: The man who kept his cool and slammed Ravichandran Ashwin for six to put Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the final, Rahul Tripathi had an impressive IPL 2021. It ended in a bit of an anti-climax as he injured himself in the final and could not give his best. However, for most part of the season, he played the attacking role in the middle-order to perfection. With KKR likely to retain Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy, Venkatesh Iyer and one among Shubman Gill/ Andre Russell, Tripathi is set to be out of the reckoning. Not a bad middle-order choice for Lucknow.

Harshal Patel: Yes, he was IPL 2021’s Purple Cap holder, with 32 scalps from 15 games. Numbers apart, Harshal Patel displayed an impressive attitude as well, making a strong comeback after being hit for 37 runs in an over by Ravindra Jadeja. But Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are likely to give preference to those who have been consistent over a period of time. Former captain Virat Kohli and seasoned leggie Yuzvendra Chahal seem set to make the cut. Glenn Maxwell had a wonderful debut season, which might not be ignored. Devdutt Padikkal could be the fourth retention. As such, Lucknow can gladly opt for Harshal.

Kagiso Rabada: The South African pacer had a poor IPL 2021 as well as T20 World Cup 2021. Kagiso Rabada looked out of sorts and bowled too many loose deliveries. It wouldn’t be surprising if DC release him. On current form, Nortje looks the safer choice. At the same time, Rabada can be handy with his experience. If he regains his confidence, he can be more than a handful. A bowler Lucknow can definitely target.

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