Hailed as one of the most consistent sides in Indian Premier League history – Chennai Super Kings have retained 18 players, including the core group, for the 2021 edition of the cash-rich T20 league season. Led by enigmatic and one of the most sought after names of world cricket – Mahendra Singh Dhoni – CSK will look to start afresh in the 14 seasons of T20 extravaganza and put behind the struggles of 2020. Chennai signed off the IPL 2020 edition in the UAE with three wins on the trot to complete their league engagements with six victories in 14 matches.

The three-time champions CSK released six players from the previous season’s squad Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Monu Singh and the recently-retired Shane Watson ahead of the IPL 2021 Player auction. “The team management took the decisions after looking at the performances of the players in the last couple of years. We have retained and released players only on the basis of how they did in the previous seasons,” CSK CEO KS Viswanathan told DT Next.

CSK are one of the most consistent teams in IPL history, having qualified for the Playoffs in 10 of their 11 seasons, reached the final eight times and lifted the trophy thrice. In this piece, we take a brief look at three players on whom CSK can invest in the IPL mini-auction in February.

Glenn Maxwell

Maxwell had a forgettble outing in IPL 2020 season where he failed to live upto his reputation of a ‘big-hitter’ for Kings XI Punjab. After being released by KXIP of his all-round duties, Maxwell can find a place in Chennai’s den who are searching for a batsman who can share the responsibility with ‘Captain Cool’ Dhoni of scoring freely and quickly when required. In 2020 edition, the 32-year-old scored 108 runs in 13 matches at a dismal average of 15.42. He scalped three wickets in total. But after the IPL, Maxwell soon rediscovered his lost touch and shot to limelight with his form in the white-ball series against India. He smashed 167 runs in three ODIs – at a strike-rate of 194.18. Maxwell’s spin can also come handy for CSK who are used to playing at their home ground – Chepauk.

Steve Smith

With the retirement of Shane Watson, Chennai will be desperate to replace him with another solid performer at the top of the order. This is where Steve Smith perfectly fits in. Released by Rajasthan Royals, Smith can the role of a sheet anchor around whom the rest of the batsmen can look to slog during the vital phases of the game. With nearly 2400 runs at an average of 35+ in 95 matches, the 32-year-old Smith can be a valuable addition to the CSK squad for the upcoming edition. Smith started the IPL 2020 season with a couple of fifties but lost his rhythm as the tournament progressed. Rajasthan finished at last in the points table in IPL 2020.

Dawid Malan

English top-order batsman Dawid Malan has made a name for himself with his extraordinary performances in the shortest format. He has achieved much success, playing in the various T20 leagues of the world. In his nascent but impactful career, Malan has given some memorable performances. Malan is also the number one T20I batsman in the world right now. Overall, the 32-year-old has played 221 T20 in which he has scored more than 6000 runs at a brilliant strike-rate of close to 130. He also has five hundreds and 35 fifties under his belt. In absence of Watson, Malan can be a reliable top-order option for Chennai Super Kings.