Mahendra Singh Dhoni, during a promotional event on Friday, said that Chennai Super Kings is keen on having Ravichandran Ashwin back in the team.

Ahead of the Indian Premier League auction on January 27 and 28, Dhoni said, “We will definitely go for [Ashwin] in the auction. He is a local lad. We want a lot of local players in CSK.”

Apart from Dhoni, CSK have retained Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja. The franchise will have to buy Ashwin in the auction and the off-spinner is bound to attract a few bidders.

“With Ashwin we cannot use the Right To Match as we have already got three Indian players retained. We have to buy him in the auction. He will come first in the auction. But as I said, we will have to wait and watch,” said Dhoni.

“At an auction, we also have to look at how much money we can afford to go for each individual as we look to make a strong team,” he added.

Ashwin is the leading wicket-taker for Chennai Super Kings with 120 wickets in 121 matches. The performances for this team helped the off-spinner get to higher levels in international cricket. Recently, though, the off-spinner’s been overlooked for the Indian team’s limited overs side.

“In the past, we have seen a lot of teams target former CSK players,” Dhoni said. “We may have to keep the emotions aside. We may want somebody, but if his price goes outside our range, we have to let him go because we have to focus on making the complete side.”

‘Don’t need to go for more left-handers’

Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo and South African skipper Faf du Plessis will be CSK’s possible targets if they’re planning to get back the team’s main players.

CSK has two Right To Match cards available, which gives the franchise the opportunity to buy back as many of its players during the auction by matching the highest bid.

“But we have to know when and where to use them,” Dhoni said. “As far as the team composition is concerned, we had three retainerships. We have retained a keeper, we have retained two batsmen and the same two batsmen can also bowl – one left-arm spinner and one off-spinner.”

“A lot of areas are covered when it comes to the top-order. We don’t need to go for more left-handers.”

‘Can’t think of not coming back to CSK’

Dhoni also thanked the Chennai fans for their love.

“A lot of [teams] approached me, I can tell you that. But, you know, I can’t think [of] not coming back to CSK,” he said.

“Our biggest strength has always been the fans. All over wherever we have gone, CSK has got support. Even when we did not play in the IPL in the last two years, the fan base increased. There is a lot of excitement among fans about the fact that CSK is back.

“The fans have over here have literally adopted me, they accept me as their own. I am touched by the admiration and ovation I receive from CSK fans, which will always remain close to my heart.”

‘Taking 20 wickets is the biggest positive (in SA series)’

About India’s performance so far in the three-Test series in South Africa, Dhoni said: “To win a Test match you need 20 wickets. We have taken 20 wickets. That is the biggest positive. If you can’t take 20 wickets, you can never win a Test, irrespective of whether you are playing at home or outside. We are taking 20 wickets, which means you are always in a position to win the match. Once you start scoring runs, you are there.”