Accent on batting

Chennai Super Kings used its lone Right to Match card to re-purchase Faf Du Plessis.-K. PICHUMANI

Many of Chennai Super Kings’ fans might have experienced a strange sensation — one of treading on uncharted territory — as the IPL auction unravelled. For a team that has had a comforting sameness over the last six years, built on the strength of a group of players, the combination has acquired a slightly different hue this time.

In its pre-auction gambit, CSK had retained its core group, including skipper M. S. Dhoni. But when Murali Vijay’s name came first on the list, it became clear that the team, after making the opening bid, wasn’t going all out to get him. Soon enough, they let go of Michael Hussey, too, making the CSK faithful wonder what the team strategy was. Their lone Right to Match card was used on re-acquiring Faf du Plessis.

But there was a good cache of batting ammunition that was purchased, in the form of New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum — who provides a ’keeping option as well — and Dwayne Smith of West Indies. In the fast bowling department, CSK plumped for Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma and the impressive Ishwar Pandey. The foreign flavour in this category is provided by Ben Hilfenhaus and Matt Henry. Samuel Badree, who bowls metronomic leg-breaks, was a neat bargain buy.

For a side that derives security in stacking up all-rounders, there hasn’t been a significant acquisition on that front. Australia’s John Hastings, a bowling all-rounder, has been added to support Dwayne Bravo. However, CSK would probably miss the lower-order impetus offered by someone such as Albie Morkel.

It has picked two promising youngsters in B. Aparajith and Vijay Shankar, both of whom might be required to play a bigger role than in the previous years. While the Chennai side might not have many imposing names as during the previous years, it still appears to have built a reasonably competent unit at Rs. 59.8 crore.

THE TEAM

Players retained: M. S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo.

Players bought: Faf Du Plessis (Rs. 4.75 crore), Dwayne Smith (4.50) Brendon McCullum (3.25), Ashish Nehra (2), Mohit Sharma (2), Ishwar Pandey (1.5), Ben Hilfenhaus (1), John Hastings (Rs. 50 lakh), Samuel Badree (30), Matt Henry (30), Mithun Manhas (30), Vijay Shankar (10), Ronit More (10), Baba Aparajith (10), Pawan Negi (10).

Arun Venugopal