Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma were retained by the Mumbai Indians for the upcoming IPL season. Ron Gaunt/IPL/SPORTZPICS
Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma were retained by the Mumbai Indians for the upcoming IPL season. Ron Gaunt/IPL/SPORTZPICS

The Mumbai Indians became the third team on Friday to announce the retention of the full quota of five players ahead of IPL 7.

The defending champions retained Rohit Sharma, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu, which leaves them with a remaining purse of Rs 21 crore for the IPL auction on 12 February.

"The formidable combination of these five players -- Rohit, Pollard, Malinga, Bhajji and Rayudu -- forms the nucleus of Mumbai Indians," Nita Ambani said in a statement on the franchise's official website.

"They have exemplified the spirit of Mumbai Indians and are match-winners in their own right. 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."

The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Rajasthan Royals had also earlier announced their decision to retain the full complement of players, with the Royal Challengers Bangalore deciding to keep three of their big stars. 

Rohit Sharma came of age as the skipper of the Mumbai Indians last season, leading them to their first IPL title, before guiding the team to their second Champions League T20 crown.

Kieron Pollard's prowess with the bat needs no introduction, with the West Indian, on his day, one of the most feared T20 batsmen in the world. The big Trinidadian's skills with the ball and tremendous agility in the field is also seen as a major asset.

Lasith Malinga was a little off colour in the last IPL, as was Ambati Rayudu, but the duo, particularly the Sri Lankan fast bowler, have shown their prowess in the past many a time.

Harbhajan Singh of course is an experienced and wily campaigner for any side, and came to the fore in IPL 6, which probably worked in the off-spinner's favour in being retained.

It will be interesting to see how the Mumbai Indians cope without the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar -- even if the big little man might not have been at his best over the last couple of season - after the Indian legend bowed out of the IPL with the title last May, before adding the icing with the CLT20 crown.

Mumbai Indians were really spoilt for choice, with the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, vital to their team's fortunes at the top of the order last season, and Pragyan Ojha all missing out.

MI will of course have the option to pull out the "right to match" card during the auction, but with the remaining purse seriously limited, and several other IPL franchises unlikely to retain all five players, it will be difficult to bring back all of the big-name players.

Meanwhile, former champions Kolkata Knight Riders decided to only retain two of their players - skipper Gautam Gambhir and can't-seem-to-be-able-to-tonk-him-no-matter-what Sunil Narine.

With just Rs 12.5 crore and Rs 9.5 crore going on the two players from the Rs 60 crore purse, it does leave KKR with a considerable amount to try and create another title-winning side. KKR will have two right-to-match cards at the auction, which means they can theoretically bring in two more of their players from last season.

[Full list of retained players HERE]

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