New Delhi: Indian pacer Ishant Sharma, English batting star Kevin Pietersen and South African speedster Dale Steyn were among the biggest names to be released by their respective franchises ahead of the Indian Premier League's 10th edition next year.
As many as 140 cricketers, including 44 overseas players, have been retained, while 63 were let go by the eight franchises for season 10. Ishant, who just returned to the Indian Test team after a long injury layoff for the ongoing fifth and final match against England in Chennai, fetched Rs 3.8 crore from Rising Pune Supergiants in the players' auction last year.
Rising Pune Supergiants had finished seventh in the last edition of the league. Rising Pune Supergiants (11), Royal Challengers Bangalore (10) and Kolkata Knight Riders (9) were the franchises to release a major chunk of the players. England's former star batsman Pietersen earned Rs 3.5 crore from Pune and South African pace spearhead Steyn had
gone for Rs 2.3 crore to debutants Gujarat Lions.
Pietersen, who couldn't play last season following an injury, has been released by the Pune along with Ishant, all-rounder Irfan Pathan and spinner Murugan Ashwin. Delhi Daredevils, who spent Rs 8.5 crore on all-rounder Pawan Negi, have set the player free after he couldn't feature in most of the matches for the team. Kolkata Night Riders have released their overseas players -- Jason Holder, Colin Munro, John Hastings, Brad Hogg and Morkel, while Sunrisers Hyderabad have axed Trent Boult and Ashish Reddy, among others along with Morgan.
Other big stars to be omitted included former Australian left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson (Kings XI Punjab), South Africa Morne Morkel (Kolkata Knight Riders), New Zealand duo Corey Anderson and Martin Guptill (Mumbai Indians), Australia's Nathan Coulter-Nile (Delhi Daredevils) and England's ODI skipper Eoin Morgan (Sunrisers Hyderabad).