The Indian Premier League auction on December 19 will see teams bidding for more than 300 players to fill up 73 slots (with 29 of those for overseas players). This is a mini-auction with some teams opting to retain bulk of their side while a few have opted for a revamp. The auction for IPL 2021 will offer teams a chance to reset their squads so this year, it will be about preparing for just the upcoming season and not exactly looking at the long haul. In this series, we take a look at what teams need for the upcoming season.
If Kings XI Punjab do everything they can to be busy at every IPL auction, Chennai Super Kings sit at the opposite side of the spectrum. Unless it is a major auction where all teams rebuild, CSK have a simple mantra: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
For MS Dhoni, Stephen Fleming and Co, the auction ahead of 2020 season will be more of the same. Since making their comeback to the tournament, despite being repeatedly trolled for being the Dad’s Army, CSK have made it to two finals in a row and won one of them. And as the team with the least number of slots available to fill, CSK have another relaxing day of watching other teams fight over players in store.
Purse available: Rs 14.60 crores
Remaining slots: 5
Overseas player slots: 2
Players released before auction (6): Mohit Sharma, Sam Billings, David Willey, Dhruv Shorey, Scott Kuggeleijn, Chaitanya Bishnoi.
Current CSK squad composition
|Suresh Raina||Lungi Ngidi||Dwayne Bravo||MS Dhoni|
|Faf du Plessis||Harbhajan Singh||Ravindra Jadeja||N Jagadeesan|
|Shane Watson||Karn Sharma||Mitchell Santner|
|Ambati Rayudu||Imran Tahir|
|M Vijay||Deepak Chahar|
|Ruturaj Gaikwad||Shardul Thakur|
|Kedar Jadhav||Monu Kumar|
Strengths of current squad
Familiarity. Experience. The knack of winning games from improbable situations.
These could describe the CSK squad at any point in the history of the IPL. The most consistent side of the tournament, along with Mumbai Indians, the Chennai franchises thrives on keeping things simple just like their captain and talisman Dhoni. The past two seasons have been about sticking to their strengths and putting the faith on experienced players if they might on the wrong side of 30. Scratch that, Dhoni and Co will argue that they are, in fact, on the right side of 30.
As far as the squad composition goes, CSK have opted to retain bulk of the players and chose to stick with the Dad’s Army for one more season at the very least. On a Chepauk pitch that will aid spinners (hopefully less so than the drab tracks that were rolled out in 2019), CSK are well stocked with both Indian and overseas talent. And in Deepak Chahar, they have one of the most exciting Indian pacers in their ranks.
With Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis, they have the quality to go with experience at the top of the batting order.
What the team needs at the auction
Last season saw CSK go the distance despite their batsmen failing to shine consistently and Dhoni doing the heavy-lifting. On tailor-made home pitches, CSK did enough to maintain Chepauk as a fortress while sneaking in an away win or two to romp to yet another final. But truth be told, on paper, the batting order for men in yellow looks significantly weak. Dhoni has barely played any cricket since the World Cup and in Raina and Rayudu, the team has two batsmen who have been out of form for a while. Watson might still be going well in leagues around the world but struggled to play long innings in the Chennai heat last season. It is quite telling that du Plessis and Jadhav seem to be the two best batsmen in this side on current international form.
In hope that the pitches will be better for batting than last year, CSK must definitely look to add quality to their batting order and bid big for someone like Chris Lynn or Jason Roy. Having released Dhruv Shorey and Chaitanya Bishnoi, the franchise will also look to add a couple of uncapped Indian batsmen to the ranks, where there are plenty of good options available. Rohan Kadam has proven to be a consistent performer for Karnataka and is an option CSK must look at. Knowing Dhoni’s tendency to go for players he has seen from close quarters, Jharkand’s Virat Singh could also receive interest from CSK.
Dhoni also mentioned a few times last season how the team struggled due to injuries for Ngidi and Bravo and a back-up pacer and all-rounder would be high on the priority list for CSK. With only two overseas slots available, the franchise might go for an Indian pace option like Jayadev Unadkat (a player they have bid for in the past) and Chris Morris or Marcus Stoinis, provided the price is driven up by other teams. The franchise could also look into emerging local talent like Sharukh Khan, who impressed with his all-round abilities during the domestic white-ball season, and will bound to be cheaper than the overseas allrounders.
All in all, do not expect CSK to go bonkers at the auction table once again. They will be more than happy to bide their time and snap up a few cut-price deals for proven talent. Whether that will be good enough to last for another season, however, remains to be seen.