In the absence of Suresh Raina, CSK struggled to keep the scoreboard moving in the powerplay and in the middle overs, while captain MS Dhoni's poor form led to a lack of impetus at the death as well. Fielding was a major let-down, while the bowlers failed to hit the right lengths consistently.
The IPL 2021 auction is fast approaching, and CSK released a few players ahead of the event.
Retained Players: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore
Released Players: Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Monu Singh, Shane Watson
Here are 3 areas of concern for CSK ahead of the IPL 2021 auction.
#3 CSK need a reliable spinner
CSK have always been a side with quality spinners, but this quality deserted them during IPL 2020. Although the wickets in the UAE didn't offer as much turn as expected, the CSK slow bowlers were highly unimpressive.
Piyush Chawla, who was bought for big money in the auction, was often too full or too short. He was understandably released by CSK, who currently have Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma as leg-spinning options.
Harbhajan Singh didn't take part in IPL 2020, and his absence was felt dearly. However, the off-spinner is now on the wrong side of 40, and CSK made the wise decision to send him back into the auction pool.
This has left the team with only one spin option who is guaranteed to be part of the playing XI in Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja has struggled with the ball over the last couple of years, with his lack of variations often proving to be his downfall on unhelpful pitches.
In the absence of Chawla and Harbhajan, CSK need a tried-and-tested IPL-level spinner. IPL 2021 is expected to happen in India, and they will need to make the most of their home advantage by fielding wicket-taking spinners.
Options are limited in the auction pool, but CSK might consider someone of the ilk of K Gowtham. They may even opt to re-sign Chawla, but on a cheaper contract.
#2 CSK need to be wary of rust
CSK have a number of players who aren't active in international cricket, and that cost them dearly in IPL 2020.
MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay and Ambati Rayudu hadn't played for their countries in a long time, and they were among the worst performers in the tournament. On the flip side, Faf du Plessis and Sam Curran, who are still active at the international level, stood out for the 3-time IPL champions.
In the IPL 2021 auction, CSK need to attempt to recruit players who are still playing international cricket, especially after a number of series having taken place in the pandemic era. Match practice and fitness will be crucial to players' performances in the competition, and CSK are one team that cannot afford to collect more 'inactive' players.
#1 CSK need to move towards a younger team
It is no secret that most of CSK's players are on the wrong side of 30. In the IPL 2021 auction, the team management needs to ensure that they address this problem by targeting the next generation of players.
CSK were expected to make trades with this objective in mind, but the acquisition of Robin Uthappa was in sharp contrast to the theory. They can't make the same mistake in the auction.
CSK must identify players to build around, and in the current squad, they have only a few - N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sam Curran. MS Dhoni will be fully aware that his side needs to move towards youth, and this is the biggest area of concern ahead of the IPL 2021 auction.