3 reasons why CSK signing Shardul Thakur at the IPL 2024 Auction is a smart move

Shardul Thakur will don the yellow of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) again (Picture Credits: BCCI).
Shardul Thakur will don the yellow of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) again (Picture Credits: BCCI).

It's a happy homecoming for Shardul Thakur, with the Indian seamer returning to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The five-time champions signed him at the IPL 2024 Auction in Dubai on Tuesday, December 19.

The experienced fast-bowling all-rounder played for CSK for four seasons before moving to the Delhi Capitals (DC) in 2022. He was then traded out to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), although an ordinary season saw him released back into the auction pool.

Thakur's services were pursued keenly by the Super Kings and the SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) before his former team won the deal at ₹4 crore, making it one of the best bargain deals of the IPL 2024 Auction.

Thakur has bagged 55 wickets in 48 matches for CSK, with his economy rate reading 8.96. His overall bowling stats in the IPL stand at 89 wickets from 86 outings at an economy rate of 9.16.

On the back of the Super Kings acquiring him at the IPL 2024 Auction, we assess three reasons as to why this is a very smart move.

#1 The factor of familiarity

Thakur was part of the Super Kings setup for four seasons spanning the 2018-2021 period, in which the team made three finals and won two of them.

He played an instrumental role in their triumph in 2021 in particular, finishing as the joint third-highest wicket-taker for the season with 21 wickets at 25.09 apiece. Considering his prior experience with the franchise, both the player and the team will have a factor of comfort as he returns to familiar surroundings.

This ought to extract the best out of Thakur, who has struggled in the last two seasons of the league with just 22 wickets at an economy rate of 9.99. Bowling at the MA Chidambaram Stadium could also help him, given the longer boundary dimensions and the tacky surface that could bring his cutters into play.

Going back to a player well-versed with the DNA of the franchise, at just ₹4 crore, seems to be a shrewd move by CSK at the IPL 2024 Auction.

#2 Allows the team to play two overseas bowlers

This is not down to Thakur's bowling, but rather his secondary skillset - his ability to tonk the ball. When you chalk out a likely playing XI for CSK post the IPL 2024 Auction, you'd think that the seamer walks in and elongates an already deep batting lineup.

With Daryl Mitchell likely to bat at No. 5, it could allow the Super Kings to play Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni at Nos. 6 and 7 with Thakur and Deepak Chahar to follow.

CSK have often believed in the batting depth philosophy, with their title triumphs in 2021 and 2023 largely stemming from the same. This could mean that while retaining their top four from the previous season, Chennai can bank on Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana to provide the X-factors in the bowling department.

Moeen Ali not necessarily a sure starter now. And had CSK instead gone for a fast-bowler who didn't have batting ability of a similar kind, they might have been forced to play either Moeen or Rachin Ravindra to lengthen the batting lineup. This is keeping in mind the fact that Jadeja and Dhoni are end-overs pace hitters at best at this stage of their careers.

With Thakur in the setup, CSK can continue to stay true to their batting depth philosophy without compromising on their frontline overseas bowling composition.

#3 Ticks off an important Indian fast-bowling option

Having listed himself as an all-rounder, Thakur was the first Indian fast bowler to come up for bidding at the IPL 2024 Auction. As it turned out, teams played the waiting game and held back for other options as CSK swiftly picked him up.

It makes all the more sense when you consider that they needed an Indian pacer. Chahar has had issues with injury, while Mukesh Choudhary and Simarjeet Singh have both not played competitive cricket for a year now. Pathirana's action can make him susceptible to injuries, and it remains to be seen how consistent Tushar Deshpande can be with the ball.

In this regard, a tried-and-tested option like Thakur is a good fit for CSK. They also have someone to fall back upon, should one of the other bowling options run into issues.

Was Shardul Thakur's signing the best bargain deal at the IPL 2024 Auction? Have your say in the comments section below!

Also read: Picking an XI of unsold players from IPL 2024 auction

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Edited by Sai Krishna
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