IPL 2020: Chennai Super Kings add to their spin repertoire and strengthen the pace battery, but fail to address one major concern
Chennai Super Kings did not indulge in any trade during the transfer window and released just five players ahead of the auctions. With five slots left (two overseas), the primary focus was to get an overseas all-rounder and a fast bowler.
The small purse did trouble them a bit, but they managed to address the problem areas in the end. The squad looks very similar to what it was in 2019, with a few notable additions.
Players bought in the auctions
Sam Curran (5.5 cr), Piyush Chawla (6.75 cr), Josh Hazlewood (2 cr), Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore (20 lakh)
CSK Full squad: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, M Vijay, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Kedar Jadhav, Lungi Ngidi, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Monu Kumar, N Jagadeesan, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Sam Curran, Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazelwood, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore
Chennai Super Kings went into the auctions looking to address two major issues: a backup for the injury-prone Dwayne Bravo and a strike bowler as a backup for Lungi Ngidi. Sam Curran at INR 5.5 cr was a good buy, considering the fact that he fits in perfectly with the category of all-rounders they were looking for.
Curran's left-arm pace bowling makes the attack more versatile, which is augmented by the fact that he is a decent death bowler too. Moe than handy with the bat, Curran is someone who thrives under pressure - which has been the characteristic of CSK since the beginning.
CSK went all the way for Piyush Chawla (6.75 cr). The idea behind the move was seemingly to make room for the likes of Curran in the XI in place of Imran Tahir.
Chawla, being an experienced campaigner and having played a lot of cricket at Chepauk, knows the pitch well. Moreover, his handy batting adds depth to the already long batting lineup.
After losing out to Mumbai Indians in a bid for Nathan Coulter-Nile, CSK managed to buy Josh Hazlewood. Hazlewood is a strike bowler and will only add strength to the pace battery. He gives them the versatility on pitches which assist pace and bounce.
The last minute buy R Sai Kishore performed exceedingly well in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The left-arm orthodox spinner bowls in the powerplays, and his T20 career economy of 5.45 is quite impressive. He is a like-for-like Indian backup for Ravindra Jadeja as far as bowling is considered.
The clarity with which they went into the auctions was evident from the fact that they only bid for seven players and managed to buy four of them.
Area of concern
The Chennai-based franchise did reasonably well at the auctions, but failed to address the one major issue which haunted them last season: the under-performing middle order.
Suresh Raina has not played much cricket post the IPL, Ambati Rayudu has been off color and Kedar Jadhav has been mediocre with his strike rate of late.
The over-reliance on MS Dhoni did cost them a few games, including the finals. With no alternative options to count on, the familiar predicaments might come back to haunt CSK.
The Chennai Super Kings were very specific in what they wanted from the auctions. They approached the event with the same composure and clarity in mind that they have on the field.
The strategic move to bring in an Indian wrist spinner so as to accommodate an overseas all-rounder was the highlight for CSK in the auctions. The management was able to address two major issues, but the concern over the under-performing middle order still remains.
However, if the likes of Raina and Jadhav hit form at the right time, the probability of winning their fourth title will grow manifold.
Overall, CSK fared quite well at the auctions, having been meticulous in their approach. The only scope of improvement was to look for a hard-hitting middle order guy.
Probable Playing XI: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazlewood/ Lungi NgidiPublished 19 Dec 2019, 22:45 IST