Former Indian opener-turned commentator Aakash Chopra feels that Chennai Super Kings [CSK] can rope in former Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith in the mini IPL auction to bolster their squad ahead of the 2021 edition of the cash-rich league.
Following a dismal 2020 season where they finished at the seventh spot in the points table, the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings released the likes of Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Piyush Chawla from their squad. Shane Watson will also not be available as he has already announced his retirement from all cricket.
The Super Kings have roped in Robin Uthappa via trade with Rajasthan Royals but given the availability of a plethora of top-order options, Aakash Chopra feels that the former IPL winner might not be an automatic choice in the main XI.
“If you see the story of the last 4-5 years, they like to have overseas openers. They have let Murali Vijay go and taken Robin Uthappa. But I don’t think Robin Uthappa will be their sure-shot first side starter. Because they have Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina and then Dhoni. So in that case, Robbie may not fit in. I feel Ruturaj will be the first-choice opener but who opens with him is a question,” said Chopra.
Chennai Super Kings have only one overseas slot available and Aakash Chopra feels that the three-time champions need an overseas batsman to beef up their batting-unit.
“They have 7 total slots available. When I made their team, I had Rayudu to open with Ruturaj, then Raina, Faf, Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Josh Hazlewood and Shardul Thakur/Deepak Chahar. They can actually play with 8 Indians as well but will want to play with 7 only. I feel they need an overseas opener or top-order batsman,” observed Chopra.
He further added that Steve Smith, who was recently released by the Rajasthan Royals can be a good option for CSK. Chopra also reckoned that apart from Steve Smith, the Chennai Super Kings might even go for the likes of Dawid Malan, Aaron Finch or Jason Roy, or even Glenn Maxwell, who endured a horrendous IPL 2020 campaign with the Kings XI Punjab leading to his subsequent release.
“The other option is they could try to acquire Steve Smith. They can go for one out of Finch or Roy. So they will have these 3-4 options. David Malan is another option but Dhoni’s track record says that he goes for tried and tested players. So, I am going with Maxwell, Smith, Finch or Roy,” added Aakash Chopra
“I won’t be surprised if they are thinking about Glenn Maxwell because they do not have an off-spinner and it will not be easy to get an off-spinner in the auction. If they want to get someone to open and Dhoni can do this, they can go with Maxwell and see what happens,” he added.