Squad Size: 19
Purse Remaining: 22.9 Cr
Available slots (Overseas): 6 (1)
Who have they retained:
Even though Chennai finished at the bottom in IPL 2020, they have still retained 18 players from last season’s squad. The most interesting retention is that of Suresh Raina who opted out of the 2020 season in the UAE for personal reasons and left the bio-bubble before the season began. Raina is now 34 and it’s difficult to know which version of him CSK will be getting this season considering he has only just returned to playing domestic cricket after over a year on the side-lines. Otherwise, CSK has kept most of their core intact, having retained 7 of their 8 overseas players from last season including Imran Tahir who barely featured in the UAE. Ruturaj Gaikwad has been retained after scoring 3 consecutive half-centuries in Chennai’s last 3 league games and MS Dhoni returns for what might be his final season in the IPL ahead of the mega auction in 2022.
Who have they released:
Shane Watson has retired from all forms of cricket and has been released by Chennai along with IPL veterans such as Harbhajan Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay and Piyush Chawla.
Who have they traded:
CSK have traded for Robin Uthappa from the Rajasthan Royals in an all-cash deal.
What they need:
Having released Kedar Jadhav and with MS Dhoni’s powers waning, Chennai needs some dependable middle-order batting to supplement Ravindra Jadeja. It was their batting that left CSK down most of the time and they didn’t have the firepower in the middle order to win games. CSK also need an overseas batsman to replace Watson at the top of the order.
Their fast bowling is taken care of with Bravo, Curran, Hazelwood and Ngidi but they do need an off-spinner in the side after letting go of Harbhajan Singh.
Players they can sign:
CSK’s plans in the auction may differ based on their long-term strategy post-IPL 2021 and whether this will be a normal IPL season played in India. If they do have 7 home games at Chepauk they need a batsman who can play spin well. Moreover, if this is indeed MS Dhoni’s last season with the franchise they have a captaincy void to fill in 2022. They could potentially solve both those problems by going after Steve Smith. Smith is a very good player of spin that can play at the top of the order and could also take over the captaincy reins from MS Dhoni in 2022.
To supplement their middle-order batting woes, they can look to sign K Gowtham who was released by KXIP ahead of this auction. Gowtham’s off-spin also picked up four wickets in the recently concluded SMAT and he could be a handful on the Chennai track.