Michael Hussey will return to the Chennai Super Kings' setup © AFP
Michael Hussey will return to the Chennai Super Kings’ setup © AFP

Perennial favourites Chennai Super Kings (CSK) made some smart buys at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 Player Auctions, choosing to go with a couple of big players and snapping up some talented youngsters as well. Shiamak Unwalla analyses the squad.  Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 schedule: IPL 8 match time table with venue details

When a team boasts of a record as good as CSK — two-time champions, three-time runners-up, and two-time semi-finalists — and have had more or less the same core team for years, the IPL auction tends to be a formality more than a point of interest. IPL 2015 Auction: Chennai Super Kings full list of players bought

That said, CSK have a history of making limited but potent purchases during the auction, a trend that continued this time as well. CSK picked up eight players at the IPL 2015 player auction: Michael Hussey, Rahul Sharma, Kyle Abbott, Ankush Bains, Pratyush Singh, Andrew Tye, Eklavya Dwivedi, and the big fish — Irfan Pathan. IPL 2015 Auction: Full list of players unsold for IPL 8

Hussey has a superb record while playing for CSK, and having been an integral part of the Big Bash League playing for Sydney Thunder (he scored 96 off 60 balls in his first game) he proved that he is still more than ready to play. His inclusion will add a bit of stability and give CSK another option at the top of the order. IPL 2015 Auction: List of players to be auctioned in IPL 8

Leg-spinner Rahul made a name for himself while playing for Pune Warriors India, and even went on to play a few One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20Is for India before fading away. He will offer CSK skipper MS Dhoni some variety to go with fellow spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Pawan Negi. Pratyush is a little-known leg-spinner, but might not have much of a role to play given the sheer number of spinners already present in the side. IPL 2015 Player Auction Updates

Abbott is a regular in South Africa’s T20 squad. He has a decent T20 record, and excels at bowling at the death. His inclusion gives the bowling attack some teeth. Andrew Tye is another viable pace-bowling option that CSK could look toward. The right-arm Australian pacer has had a tremendous start to his career, having burst onto the scene in 2013.

Bains and Dwivedi are both wicketkeepers, which is curious given that CSK already have the likes of Dhoni and Brendon McCullum in the side. However, given how fiercely CSK were competing for Dinesh Karthik, and given that Parthiv Patel and Wriddhiman Saha have both been a part of the side in the past, it is perhaps not surprising that Dhoni wants a back-up ‘keeper.

But perhaps the biggest gain for CSK has been Pathan. The discarded Indian all-rounder was snapped up for his base price of Rs 1.5 crore, which is a bargain by any stretch. CSK have shown repeatedly in the past that they love all-rounders, and in Pathan they have someone who can contribute four steady overs as well as play a late cameo with the bat.

Strengths: CSK continue to remain the team to beat in IPL. They have a well-rounded side with a lot of good Indian players, and have an excellent overall record.

Weaknesses: The lack of a game-changing overseas player barring McCullum. Dwayne Smith is a bit too inconsistent, while Dwayne Bravo is a consistent performer without being someone who can change the course of a game within an over.

Strange selection: Rahul Sharma. With three spinners in the side already, getting in another one could be considered overkill.

Dark horse: Irfan Pathan. The all-rounder could push for a national recall if he manages to put in a consistent performance for CSK.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)