After the auction for 2020 edition of Indian Premier League, in this series we take a look at how the teams stack up and what their strengths, weaknesses are.

Breakdown of the CSK squad with players bought at the auction highlighted in bold:

Chennai Super Kings

Batsmen Bowlers Allrounders Wicketkeepers
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 Sam Curran
M Vijay Deepak Chahar
Ruturaj Gaikwad Shardul Thakur
Kedar Jadhav Monu Kumar
KM Asif
Piyush Chawla
Josh Hazlewood
R. Sai Kishore

In what was one of the most bizarre moments of an IPL auction full of surprises, Chennai Super Kings made Piyush Chawla the most expensive Indian player of the day. Of course, Chawla is a 30-year-old, so he probably fits right in with CSK’s scheme of things. Going into the auction, the three-time champions had opted to retain majority of the players from the 2018 season and that was no surprise. But the squad had some clear issues which one thought would be addressed in Kolkata if this was a mini-auction. As it stands, the jury is still out on that.

Players brought in

Piyush Chawla Bowler ₹6,75,00,000
Sam Curran All-rounder ₹5,50,00,000
Josh Hazlewood Bowler ₹2,00,00,000
R. Sai Kishore Bowler ₹20,00,000

As written in the preview, the past two seasons since their comeback to the league have been about sticking to their strengths and putting the faith on experienced players for CSK. Even 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 if having the army of spin bowling options was not enough already, CSK went and added the experience of Chawla (a man with 150 IPL wickets to his name) to their squad. Having a 30-year-old to back up a 40-year-old (Imran Tahir) is how this franchise has decided to do their business. Make no mistake, Chawla is going to enjoy playing under Dhoni as well as at Chepauk whenever he gets selected, although, one wonders why they retained Karn Sharma if they were going for a back-up leg-spinner.

The franchise also explained that they were looking keenly for an overseas pacer and went toe-to-toe with Mumbai Indians for Nathan Coulter-Nile before losing out to the Ambanis (CSK fans will hope that is not a sign of things to come on the field of play).

We didn’t have a lot of money and we were dictated a little bit by what others want so we had to play the waiting game on big players that fit nicely into our team. Sam Curran is really good for us. Left armer and chips in with his cutters and his batting and we think he is a very nice addition,” coach Stephen Fleming told Star Sports after the auction.

The former New Zealand captain added: “Piyush has history with the captain and is a world class bowler so we have always favoured spinners and we just had to make the right choices.

“We have different types of spinners, but we have got to make some decisions now around how we use them. There are also other options within the competition, so that we can maximise their talent. We wanted Piyush. We rate him very highly with what he does with the bat as well. So it’s nice to have him in the squad. Spin has been good for us.”

Undoubtedly, Chawla’s addition will allow CSK to play an extra overseas player in the XI, if they have to, which could be Curran to add to the batting depth or Hazlewood, to use him for his accuracy in the powerplays and keep Deepak Chahar for the back-end. Dhoni loves to have options, and he certainly added a few more to his armoury. Curran won’t just be a nice back-up for Bravo but could even replace the West Indian in the XI if he clicks right away.

“At home, we have got to mix it around how we want to play. But when we go away, we want to have most bases covered from the Indian and international options from where we can pick and choose. Curran and Bravo in the middle gives us options. We have a couple of pieces to add in the team. We are pretty comfortable, we are just looking at adding to what we have got and enhance certain areas to make it more flexible in different conditions,” said Fleming.

But, by not releasing, say, Karn Sharma or by opting for Sai Kishore at base price instead of a batsman, CSK have failed to address the batting worries in the squad that saw them become too dependent on Dhoni in 2018. He was the player who dragged the team out of dicey situations and was at times a one-man army with the bat.

And his batting, as we have seen since, is not at its best. The franchise is once again backing him to come good or hoping the likes of Raina, Watson, Jadhav and Rayudu have a significantly better season than last one (and what their form suggests).

Dhoni and CSK have the knack to get players to defy form and come up with match-winning performances. It would be naive to doubt their squad’s quality given what they have managed, but one cannot help but wonder if the men in yellow are pushing the ceiling when it comes to their batsmen, especially.