#NewsBytesExplainer: Decoding CSK's focus areas for IPL 2021 auction?
Chennai Super Kings had an unusual season in 2020 as they failed to seal the qualification berth for the first time in IPL history. The Yellow Army looked completely bleak, having finished seventh in the league stage. Now, the MS Dhoni-led side, which recently released several marquee names, would want to capitalize on the impending mini-auction. We take a look at CSK's focus areas.
Here are the players CSK released
In the recently-concluded Player Retention event, CSK released the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson, Monu Singh, Piyush Chawla and Murali Vijay. Notably, Watson had announced retirement from all forms of cricket following the completion of last season. Meanwhile, the CSK now have six slots remaining (one overseas), with a remaining purse of Rs. 19.9 crore.
A look at the players retained by CSK
Retained: MS Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Narayan Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore, Sam Curran, Robin Uthappa (traded)
CSK require a specialist off-spinner
In the absence of Harbhajan, the CSK roster is now devoid of a front-line off-spinner. However, they still have the services of leg-spinners Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma. CSK will likely play half of their league matches in Chennai, where the wicket usually assists spin. Although they have Ravindra Jadeja in the ranks, a right-arm off-spinner will be more competitive against left-handed batsmen.
CSK in need of a versatile middle-order batsman
The lack of effective middle-order batsmen resulted in low-scoring rates for CSK throughout the tournament last year. With departure of both Watson and Jadhav, either Rayudu or du Plessis are expected to open alongside the talented Ruturaj. Notably, the recently-traded Uthappa could also be seen as an opener. Considering Dhoni's poor run, a couple of versatile hitters could add fire to this batting attack.
All-rounder Chris Morris will be the best bet for CSK
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have released all-rounder Chris Morris. This makes him one of the hot picks as the all-important auction approaches. Fast-bowling all-rounder Morris perfectly fits in CSK's XI, owing to his dynamic credentials. He could also be an ideal replacement for Dwayne Bravo, who has been facing fitness issues lately. In past, Albie Morkel has played a similar role for the franchise.
Which other players can CSK buy?
Among the foreign players, the CSK could go for Glenn Maxwell, who might perform better under Dhoni. Australian star Steve Smith, who has earlier represented RPS alongside Dhoni, might also be targeted. Another lucrative option could be England's Dawid Malan, who is presently the number one T20I batsman. Also, the CSK management will be monitoring the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy to pick Indian players.