Chennai Super Kings retained 18 players from last season, released 8 and added 6 new exciting talents during the IPL 2021 Auction to complete a formidable squad. The franchise went heavy on two spinning all-rounders in the form of Krishnappa Gowtham (INR 9.25 crore) and Moeen Ali (INR 7 crore) to provide them more depth and balance. Apart from them, CSK bought the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara to provide them a solid backup option for top order. MS Dhoni's side also added a few youngsters like Hari Nishant, K Bhagath Varma and Harishankar Reddy.
After failing to reach the play-offs in IPL 2020 for the first time in the history of the tournament, CSK will look to bounce back this season and clinch their 4th IPL title in 2021.
1. Ruturaj Gaikwad
Youngster Ruturaj Gaikwad is going to be one of the players to watch out for in IPL 2021. The right-handed batsman smashed three consecutive half-centuries towards the end of season, showing some spark at top of the order. He ended the season with 204 runs in 6 matches at an impressive average of 51. Gaikwad is certainly expected to play a crucial role for the franchise, opening the innings.
2. Faf du Plessis
While CSK had a disappointing campaign in 2020, Faf du Plessis was one of the only few players who looked in good touch. The South African made some handy contributions at top of the order, scoring 449 runs in 13 games at a scintillating strike-rate of 140.75. With Shane Watson retired, the responsibility now lies on the experienced shoulders of Faf du Plessis to lay a solid platform for the franchise at top.
3. Suresh Raina
The southpaw is undoubtedly one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the tournament. Raina is the 2nd highest run-scorer in IPL with 5368 runs in 193 matches. CSK certainly missed the services of Chinna Thala in IPL 2020 as they could never find a replacement for that No. 3 spot. With Raina back for the franchise this season, the franchise will be a completely different outfit altogether.
4. Ambati Rayudu
The 35-year-old had a fairly inconsistent campaign in IPL 2020 with 359 runs in 12 matches. There were a few matches where Rayudu was the game-changer with his crucial knocks. The right-handed batsman has an ability to score some quick runs in the middle-overs with his counter-attacking approach. With top-order looking much more settled, Rayudu can play much more freely at No. 4 for CSK this season.
5. MS Dhoni (c/wk)
The charismatic captain could well be playing his last IPL this season and would be keen to finish off in style. No. 5 seems to be the perfect spot for MSD going into this season with the kind of players the franchise has. Thala is certainly looking in good touch in the ongoing CSK camp and is ready to play some explosive knocks this season, leading from the front.
6. Ravindra Jadeja
The all-rounder was at his explosive best in IPL 2020, scoring 232 runs at a phenomenal strike-rate of 171.85. Jadeja will be returning to action after a lay-off of few months due to an injury he sustained in Australia. He would be itching to get some playing action and would be raring to produce some magical performances for CSK in IPL 2021.
7. Moeen Ali
The England cricketer was bought for INR 7 crore in IPL Auction and is a really exciting addition to this already star-studded CSK side. Moeen Ali has the ability to play some big shots while chipping in with some consistent off-break bowling. He will certainly provide a lot of depth to the batting line-up and will form a lethal spin-bowling pair with Jadeja.
8. Sam Curran
There could be a toss-up between Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo for the spot of a fast-bowling all-rounder. However, considering last season's performances, the Englishmen should certainly be the first choice. Curran scored 186 runs and scalped 13 wickets to cap off his first season with the franchise. The left-hander is also an explosive hitter and can be used as a floater, if required.
9. Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur has completely revamped his image and has become a smart T20 bowler in recent years. The right-arm bowler has developed a variety of deliveries in his bowling armory which were on display in India's T20I series win against England. A good death bowler who can contribute with the bat as well, Thakur could be another player to watch out for in IPL 2021.
10. Deepak Chahar
The right-arm pacer is one of the best swing bowlers in world right now. He has the ability to take some quick wickets in powerplay overs and has been one of the key components in this CSK setup. Chahar had a fairly decent campaign last year with 12 wickets at an economy of 7.61 and would be looking for a much better season in 2021.
11. Lungi Ngidi
The South African pacer could be a vital cog in CSK's bowling line-up that struggled last year. Ngidi took 9 wickets in 4 matches in 2020 but was fairly expensive at the death. However, he did not get too many opportunities last year. Going into IPL 2021, he is the quickest bowler in the franchise and could play a crucial role on the fast, pacy wickets in Mumbai and Bengaluru.