New Delhi: Sanju Samson replaced Steve Smith as Rajasthan Royals captain after the Australian batsman and some other under-performing stars were released by their respective IPL franchises even as Chennai Super Kings retained veteran Suresh Raina for the upcoming 14th edition of the league.
The deadline for the eight franchises to submit the lists of retained and released players for the next season ended on Wednesday.
Sanju was appointed to the top job after Royals decided against renewing former skipper Steve Smith's contract.
"As the IPL has grown, the captaincy has become a year-round task, and as such strong local Indian leadership has become increasingly important," said Royals owner Manoj Badale in a statement.
"Sanju made his debut as a Royal, and it has been a joy to watch his development over the last 8 years. He is the ideal person to lead the Royals into the 2021 season," he added.
Smith's contract ended in October, 2020.
The Australians, smarting from a Test series loss to an injury-plagued India, took a hit as the likes of the explosive Glenn Maxwell and opener Aaron Finch too were released by Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively.
Also released by KXIP were West Indies all-rounder Sheldon Cottrell, Afghanistan's Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham, who underwent a surgery recently to treat an injured finger.
CSK's Harbhajan Singh and Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga were among the other big names to be released by their respective sides ahead of next month's auction.
Harbhajan was joined by the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Piyush Chawla and Murali Vijay who were also let go by CSK.
Also released by MI was Sherfane Rutherford, while Delhi Capitals decided to enter the next edition without English batsman Jason Roy, wicketkeeper Alex Carey, leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and seamer Mohit Sharma.
Malinga had been a prominent part of MI's title-winning campaigns in the past though he was not there last time due to personal reasons.
Defending champions MI have released as many as seven including Malinga, Kiwi quick Mitchell McClenaghan, Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile and his countryman James Pattinson, uncapped leg-spinner Prince Balwant Rai, and fast bowler Digvijay Deshmukh.
MI, who won an unprecedented fifth title in 2020, now have 18 players in their squad with seven spots open, which can be filled in the mini-auction. This also means that MI can go and pick as many as four overseas players for the next season.
Under Smith's captaincy, inaugural edition champions Royals finished last in the 2020 IPL when the star Australian batsman played all the 14 league matches, scoring 311 runs at a strike rate of 131, including three half-centuries.
Ahead of the 2018 IPL, Smith was the only player retained by Royals for Rs 12.5 crore. The same year, he was appointed as the captain.
However, his impact came under the scanner after the team's disastrous outing in the UAE last year.
"I am excited about the challenge that lies ahead of me as the leader of the team," said new captain Sanju.
"The Royals have had some wonderful captains over the years and I'm so grateful for all the time I've spent working with and learning from great leaders like Rahul Dravid, Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith!! I now cannot wait to get started and look forward to the season ahead."
The seasoned Raina was retained by the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK notwithstanding his sudden departure from the last IPL in the UAE.
It is believed the three-time winners decided to continue with Raina in order to bolster the batting order that struggled during a forgettable last season, which culminated in a seventh-place finish and a league-stage elimination for the first time since the tournament's inception in 2008.
The left-handed Raina has been an integral part of the Super Kings from the beginning, emerging as their highest scorer while guiding them to two IPL titles.
Delhi Capitals retained all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and pacer Kagiso Rabada.
Stoinis made useful contributions in the 2020 edition and helped the Capitals reach their first-ever IPL final.
Batting mostly in the middle order, he amassed 352 runs at an average of 25.14 and a strike rate of 148.52.
With the ball, he took 13 wickets at an economy of 9.53.
The Delhi-based franchise retained a total of 19 players including six overseas players.
KKR will be go into next month's auction with a 17-member squad after having released only five players from the team.
The two-time champions have released Tom Banton and Chris Green among the foreign players and Siddhesh Lad, Nikhil Naik and M Siddharth among the Indians.
After Wednesday, RCB's total purse increased from Rs 6.4 crore to Rs 35.7 crore, Delhi Capitals' swelled to Rs 12.8 crore from 9 crore, Rajasthan Royals' purse jumped to 34.85 crore from Rs 14.75 crore, Kings XI Punjab saw an exponential rise from Rs 16.5 crore to Rs 53.2 crore, and Sunrisers Hyderabad went from Rs 10.1 crore to Rs 10.75 crore.
Two-time winners KKR's purse went up from Rs 8.5 crore to Rs 10.85 crore and from Rs 15 crore, three-time champions CSK's amount in the kitty increased to Rs 22.9 crore.
Mumbai Indians were left with a purse of Rs 15.35 crore.