Chennai Super Kings have been one of the most consistent IPL sides, having qualified for the play-offs 10 times in 11 seasons and for the finals in 8 seasons, the most by any team. The three-time champions also have the highest win percentage (59.22%) and the second highest number of wins (106) despite playing 2 seasons less than other regular teams.
However, like good thing has an end, CSK’s streak of play-off appearances came to an end in IPL 2020. A series of unfortunate events before the start of the tournament and the form of players who are past their prime meant CSK failed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time in eleven seasons.
With the auctions for the next edition nearing, the management is certain to take some tough calls in order to bring the team back on track. Here we look at 3 players who might be released by CSK ahead of the auctions:
Kedar Jadhav was one of the best available options as far as Indian middle order batsmen are considered in the 2018 auctions. A regular in the Indian ODI team and having scored at strike rate of 143.54 in 2017, Jadhav was certainly a hot property in the auctions. With CSK going for experience in 2018, they could not have asked for a better option than Jadhav and hence the management bid a massive 7.8 cr for him.
However, after his first match for CSK where he won them the game with a last over six, Jadhav has looked completely at sea for the men in yellow. In the 23 games he has played for CSK, Jadhav has scored a total of 248 runs at a below par strike rate of 96.49 and average of 20.66. For someone batting in the middle order in a tournament of such high quality, these numbers cannot justify a place in the side.
Moreover, Jadhav’s fitness issues and his slowness on the filed makes him a liability for the three-time champions. The management will surely be tempted to release the batsman free up a huge amount of the purse.
Considered as a red-ball specialist in the initial stages of his career, Murali Vijay underwent drastic transformation to become a fine T20 opener during his stint with Chennai Super Kings in the initial years of the IPL. Getting proper exposure in 2010, Vijay grabbed the opportunity with both hands and became CSK’s first choice opener for almost half a decade. His importance can be gauged from the fact he was retained ahead of the likes of M Hussey and R Ashwin in 2011. Move the clock 10 years ahead; Vijay is still in the CSK squad, but now as a backup opener and is more a liability for the side than an asset.
In the 2018 auctions, CSK got Vijay as a backup opener, buying him at his base price of 2 cr. Not requiring much of his services in 2018 and 2019, CSK were forced to start with Vijay in 2020, courtesy the series of events that happened in the lead-up to the tournament.
Looking a pale shadow of what he was a decade back, Vijay scored just 32 runs in 3 innings at an average of 10.66 and strike rate of 74.41. More often than not his inability to play strokes or even rotate strike put undue pressure on his partners and put the team in trouble. With age catching up, the fielding is not sharp as it used to be.
With an abundance of openers in the domestic circuit, CSK management will be tempted to release Vijay and go for a younger alternative.
That CSK were over-reliant on Imran Tahir for wrist spin in 2018-19 was no hidden fact. This was one of the departments they looked to plug in the 2020 auctions and hence were looking for an experienced leggie in the auctions ahead of IPL 2020. With KKR releasing Piyush ahead of the auctions, Piyush Chawla was on CSK’s radar, given his effectiveness on spin-friendly tracks (CSK’s home ground) and his valuable lower order batting. The management did not think twice before bidding as high as 6.75 cr on him.
Cometh the start of the tournament, Chawla never quite managed to put a brake on the scoring rate nor was amongst the wickets. He conceded 1.22 runs per over more this season than his overall IPL career. While he picked 6 wickets in 7 games, Chawla conceded 31.83 runs per wicket, which is 4.51 runs more than he usually does in the IPL. His ineffectiveness meant CSK’s strongest area, the middle overs, turned into their weakness.
On the field, Chawla has always been a slow mover and with a lot of other guys in CSK with similar traits, Chawla got even more exposed. With the next edition of the IPL also likely to happen in UAE and mega-auctions coming up for the 2022 season, CSK retaining Chawla might not be a wise move, considering the purse that he consumes for the value he brings in for the side. An alternative from the domestic circuit might be bought at a lower price, which will serve the team better.
Cometh 21 January, the retention lists will be out and it will not be a surprise if CSK release the 3 big names along with a few others, for the management was keen on rebuilding after the nightmarish 2020 season.