While the original expectation was that the Indian Premier League’s 14th edition would be preceded by a mega auction, franchises are set for another short-term recruitment drive. With no new teams added to the league, the eight existing franchises were given the chance to retain the bulk of their squad. And so, a maximum of 61 slots spread across teams are to be filled up during the IPL 2021 auction, to be held in Chennai. The tournament is expected to be played in India, starting from April. You can read about rest of the teams here.

Here’s the complete shortlist of players for the auction.

In 2020, Chennai Super Kings went through a season in the Indian Premier League like never before. They did not finish last in the end, but they were the first team to bow out of the playoffs race. It was the first season in their IPL history that they were not part of the post-season.

The CSK squad was pegged back by Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh’s withdrawals from the edition, followed by a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp that affected Ruturaj Gaikwad’s early form, before paying the price for sticking with an aged group of players who struggled to dust off their rustiness.

Gaikwad found form later and emerged as one of the finds of the tournament while Sam Curran proved to be a shrewd buy. Ravindra Jadeja’s form with the bat lower down the order carried from IPL to India duties, and fitness permitting, he will once again be a vital part of the squad. Apart from that, there were not too many positives for CSK during IPL 2020.

While there was a sense that a rebuild was on the cards, perhaps the nature of the upcoming auction (not a full-blown one) meant that they chose to retain a bulk of their squad. If CSK fans were hoping for a fresh start, that’s not going to happen.

IPL 2020, CSK season review: Top performers, match results and video highlights

Results in last three seasons

Season League stage finish Playoff result
IPL 2018 2nd Champions
IPL 2019 2nd Lost in final
IPL 2020 7th ––

With Shane Watson retiring, and Kedar Jadhav enduring a poor season with the bat, and Harbhajan Singh in the twilight of his career, CSK parted ways with three fairly regular members of their squad. The squad has also brought in Robin Uthappa from Rajasthan Royals as an option at the top of the batting order.

Players released after IPL 2020: Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Monu Singh, Shane Watson

Player traded in: Robin Uthappa from RR

CSK squad for IPL 2021 ahead of auction

Batsmen Bowlers Wicketkeepers Allrounders
Suresh Raina Deepak Chahar MS Dhoni Dwayne Bravo
Ambati Rayudu KM Asif N Jagadeesan Mitchell Santner
Faf du Plessis Imran Tahir Ravindra Jadeja
Ruturaj Gaikwad Karn Sharma Sam Curran
Robin Uthappa Lungi Ngidi
Shardul Thakur
Josh Hazlewood
R Sai Kishore

A glance at the squad makeup indicates that there are enough weaknesses throughout the squad if one is looking closely enough. Bravo’s best days might be behind him, so a couple of all-rounder options (one of them overseas) is also a slot to look for. Raina has barely played any cricket in the last couple of years and did not exactly light up the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy either.

In all honesty, the strength, once again, is in their spin department where they could look to play Santner more, especially if the tournament is to be played in India as it is expected.

Salary cap remaining: Rs 19.96 crores  

Overall slots remaining: 6

Overseas slots remaining: 1

Areas to target

  • Indian off-spinner
  • Marquee overseas batsman / all-rounder
  • Indian middle order batsmen
  • Younger squad options

Going into this auction, the team has just six open slots to fill and only one of those are for overseas players. With the think-tank’s familiarity with him from the Rising Pune Supergiant(s) days, and the need for a consistent top-order batsman, CSK could look at Steve Smith as their marquee buy and spend the rest of their limited funds on picking up squad options from the Indian players available. Glenn Maxwell or Chris Morris could also be options. When Moeen Ali was teeing off at Chepauk in the final day of the second Test between India and England, there were calls for CSK to look at bringing him in to the set-up, given the team needs an off-spinner as well as big-hitter against spin: the Englishman, like the Aussie star Maxwell, could be that two-in-one option.

Speaking on Star Sports’ show ‘Cricket Connected’, two-time IPL-title winning captain Gautam Gambhir said: “This time around, Suresh Raina coming back will be a huge boost for CSK because he plays T20 cricket really well and he’s done a lot of good things for CSK. At the same time, they will have new players coming in, whether it’s a replacement for Shane Watson or probably an off-spinner or an all-rounder. So, when new players come in, obviously they will bring new ideas, they bring new energy as well. I am sure those are the areas CSK will be looking for.”

IPL 2021: Purse & squad details before auction

Franchise Purse remaining (Rs crores) Available Slots Overseas Slots
CSK 19.9 6 1
DC 13.4 8 3
KXIP 53.2 9 5
KKR 10.75 8 2
MI 15.35 7 4
RR 37.85 9 3
RCB 35.4 11 3
SRH 10.75 3 1

The auction will be telecast on Star Sports Network on 18 February from 3 pm IST.