The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) had an off run in IPL 2020 amidst the conditions of UAE. Led by MS Dhoni, the side failed to grab a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the power-packed T20 tournament was found in 2008. In spite of securing wins in the last three matches of the league stages, CSK finished at the seventh spot with merely 6 wins and an NRR of -0.455.
Ahead of the auctions, CSK retained 18 players and those who have been released include – Shane Watson (retired), Monu Kumar, Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay, Piyush Chawla, and Harbhajan Singh.
Post the releases, the three-time IPL winners now have a purse of INR 22.9 crore heading into the mini-auction scheduled to take place on February 18. However, with only one spot remaining for a foreign player, let us take a look at the five overseas cricketers that CSK can look to pick in IPL 2021 auctions –
Currently ranked No 1 in the ICC Men’s T20I rankings, Dawid Malan would surely be one the highest bids among the batters during the IPL auctions.
The Englishman was in a red-hot form in the 3-match T20Is during the tour South Africa held in November-December 2020, where he scored 19(20), 55(40), and 99*(47) to ensure a clean sweep triumph. And with his heroics, the southpaw became the first cricketer to go past the 900-run mark in the rankings in the shortest format.
In 19 T20I appearances to date, the 33-year-old Middlesex cricketer has scored 855 runs at an average of 53.43 and a strike rate close to 150, including a century and 9 half-centuries. Interestingly, he has a fifty-plus total in each of the countries he has competed in the T20 Internationals.
Though he hasn’t played in IPL, he has left an impact in the T20 leagues across the globe which is evident from his tally of runs scored – 6117 runs in 223 T20s at an average of 33.24.
Moreover, the void created post-Shane Watson’s retirement in the previous season could just be the opportunity for a top-order batsman like Malan to be roped in by the Chennai-based franchise for the forthcoming season.
The batting all-rounder had a disastrous run in IPL 2020, where he could muster just 108 runs in 13 innings at an average of 15.43, and as a result, he was dropped by Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) ahead of the IPL 2021 auctions that are expected to take place in February.
However, he had a complete reversal of fortunes in the limited-over matches against India in the concluded home series. In the 3-match ODI series that Australia won by 2-1, Maxwell recorded scores of 45(19), 63*(29), and 59(38), with the initial two knocks assisting the hosts to get past 370 and 390-run marks in the first and second ODIs respectively.
A hard-striker of the ball, Maxwell has always been a valuable player for Australia in white-ball cricket, more so, in the shortest format of the game. In 67 T20s, he has amassed 1,687 runs at an average of 33-plus and a strike rate of 157.96.
The 33-year-old has been pretty decent with his willow in the concurrent edition of Big Bash League (BBL). So far, he has aggregated 313 runs in 12 innings at an average and strike rate of 28.45 and 140.35 respectively, including 7 wickets at an economy of 7.66.
He could provide just the required breakthroughs with his off-break during the powerplay or middle-overs, making him a player to keep an eye upon in the IPL auctions.
In spite of a stupendous start to IPL 2020 where he registered scores of 69(47) and 50(27) in the first two matches, Smith couldn’t keep up the momentum and eventually finished with 311 runs in 13 innings at an average of 25.92. He did play few aggressive knocks as in the second half of the tournament, for instance, the 36-ball 57 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and an unbeaten 31 off 20 deliveries against Kings XI Punjab. However, the string of low scores in the midway adversely affected his overall numbers.
Now that he has been relieved by the Rajasthan Royals both as a skipper and as a player, he will be back in IPL 2021 auctions. An experience of 95 IPL matches with 2,333 runs at an average of 35.35 and a strike rate of 129.25, along with the international experience of white-ball matches, CSK might show their interest in the Sydney-born cricketer on the selection day.
With the all-round prowess that he brings onto the table, Chris Morris could be an X factor and a potential match-winner for the Chennai-based franchise if he’s picked during the auction.
The Protea cricketer was a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2020, and though he joined the playing XI midway through the tournament, he still rendered noteworthy numbers. In the 9 matches that he played, Morris scalped 11 wickets and averaged an astonishing 19.09 at an astonishing economy of 6.63. In the death overs, he drew curtains on the opposition’s scoring ability on a number of occasions.
Not to forget, he’s a great fielder who could stop the outflow of runs at any given stage of the contest, and a clean striker, who could decimate the bowling attacks in the death overs.
Considering CSK has over 22 crores in their purse post the retentions and releases, the Men in Yellow could ponder over the all-rounder’s selection for the upcoming edition.
Although Starc hasn’t played in IPL in the last five years and wasn’t effective in the lately concluded series against India in both limited-overs and Test matches, he still remains a highly valuable pick as someone who could rise on the occasion when needed.
The left-arm pacer was at his lethal best in IPL 2015 where finished as one of the highest wicket-takers in the tournament, scalping 20 wickets in 13 matches at a jaw-dropping average of 14.55 and an economy of 6.55. He was a member of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2014-15, overall, has played 25 matches in IPL and picked 34 wickets, with 4/15 as the best figures in an innings.
With the Chennai Super Kings requiring one overseas player to wind up their IPL 2021 auctions, who better than the Sydney-born fast bowler, considering he brings in an experience of 98 T20s, where he has affected 144 dismissals while averaging just 17.77.
Starc could be a menace with his pacey inswinging deliveries in the powerplays and toe-crushing yorkers in the death overs. And bowling in tandem with Deepak Chahar might prove as a deadly combination for the batters in the upcoming edition.