Ever since the retention guidelines were confirmed by the Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council (GC) last month, all eight franchises have been working towards assembling a "core group" for the 11th edition of the cash-rich Twenty20 league.
It was decided that the franchises, including Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) who are returning after their two-year suspensions, would be allowed to retain five players - through pre-auction retentions and Right To Match (RTM) during the auction, scheduled for January 27 and 28.
Unlike previous years where choices of retentions were revealed through e-mails, IPL organisers and official broadcasters "Star Sports" this year have decided to telecast the announcement of retentions on Thursday, January 4, from Mumbai.
Adding flair to the event, owners of all eight IPL teams along with BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and league chairman Rajiv Shukla will be present at the venue for announcing the names, according to "The Times of India".
When it comes to retentions, the likes of CSK, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians (MI) are expected to make some obvious calls as they would be interested in securing the services of big names - MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
On the other hand, RR, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Delhi Daredevils (DD) might bank on the auction in order to start from the scratch.
CSK reportedly will also be retaining Suresh Raina. The two-time champions might opt for Ravindra Jadeja as their third option and go after R Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo during the auction using RTM cards.
On the other hand, MI are all set to retain Rohit along with Pandya brothers - Hardik and Krunal while RCB are likely to opt for Kohli and AB de Villiers. It remains to be seen if they will go for a third player in Chris Gayle or Yuzvendra Chahal.
Meanwhile, two-time champion Kolkata Knight Riders are unlikely to retain their skipper Gautam Gambhir and instead opt for Australian big-hitter Chris Lynn, according to reports.
Here's IBTimes India's prediction of player retentions for IPL 2018
Chennai Super Kings - MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina
Royal Challengers Bangalore - Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers
Mumbai Indians - Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya
Kolkata Knight Riders - Chris Lynn
Kings XI Punjab - None
Delhi Daredevils - Chris Morris
Rajasthan Royals - Steve Smith
Sunrisers Hyderabad -- David Warner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar