Defending champions Mumbai Indians on Friday retained five players including skipper Rohit Sharma and dashing West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard, for the upcoming seventh season of Indian Premier League.
Apart from skipper Rohit and Pollard, the three others retained are senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga and talented batsman Ambati Rayudu, who can also double up as a wicketkeeper.
Australian speedster Mitchell Johnson will now be favourite to be obtained through 'Right to Match' cards that the franchise can exercise during the two-day auction on February 12 and 13.
"The formidable combination of these five players - Rohit, Pollard, Malinga, Bhajji and Rayudu - forms the nucleus of Mumbai Indians. They have exemplified the spirit of Mumbai Indians and are match-winners in their own right," Nita Ambani, owner of MI, was quoted as saying in a press release.
"With the retention of the core players, Mumbai Indians look forward to build a stronger, well-knit team and share the joy of an enthralling and entertaining performance with its ever-growing fans in the coming season," she further added.
Dinesh Karthik is another player who has missed out on retention as Rayudu being a specialist batsman and his ability to do a decent job behind the stumps tilted the scales in his favour.
As far as Malinga is concerned, he has been a 'Game Changer' for MI at the death overs and the possibility of some of the matches being played in Sri Lanka may have prompted the team management to take a call in the slinger's favour.
Mumbai Indians have had phenomenal success over the last four years, both on and off the field, emerging as one of the most successful and followed teams.
As a favorite sports team, Mumbai Indians is closely followed by 4.2 million fans across the globe. Brand Mumbai Indians was ranked No. 1 cricket club in India and 146th among the 250 best sports brand in the world (BrandFinance pls, UK 2012).
In the Social Media space, Mumbai Indians featured among the top ten most followed Indian brands (INCITE 2012 by Nielsen & McKinsey).