With a mix of big and bargain buys, Super Kings get ready for title defence

Going all out: Super Kings went full throttle to sign Mitchell and Rizvi, right, while it added Ravindra for a not-so-high price of ₹1.8 crore.

The 2024 IPL could be a defining one for defending champion Chennai Super Kings, as it could well be the last season for its talismanic captain, M.S. Dhoni.

Going into the player auction, the five-time champion needed to strengthen only a few areas, and the management can be pleased with how things turned out in Dubai on Tuesday.

Area of focus

A key area of focus was to find a replacement for the now-retired Ambati Rayudu, who made impactful performances in the last three title-winning campaigns (2018, 2021 & 2023).

On that front, the Super Kings scored a winner in all-rounder Daryl Mitchell and also snapped up a highly-rated 20-year-old uncapped player, Sameer Rizvi, going full throttle for both of them.

The team made full use of its purse of ₹31.40 crore budget to pursue all-rounder Mitchell and get him for ₹14 crore. Mitchell had a tremendous World Cup in India and could fill Rayudu’s shoes in the middle-order.

Meanwhile, Rizvi (₹8.4 crore) scored 277 runs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for UP at a strike rate of nearly 140 with 18 sixes. The hard-hitting youngster also had a sensational UP T20 league, and if he can find his feet at the IPL level, the Yellow Brigade might have found a star for the future. These big buys were set up right at the start when the think-tank was able to strike bargain deals in scooping up New Zealand batting sensation Rachin Ravindra and India medium-pacer Shardul Thakur, who was with the outfit for four years between 2018 and 2021.

Shardul’s best years in the IPL have been while wearing the yellow jersey as a death-overs specialist and he also adds depth to the batting line-up.

One of the key targets

Coach Stephen Fleming later said Mitchell was one of his side’s key targets.

“Daryl is a different type of player, but his performances over the last 18-24 months have warranted this price. He is an unfashionable player and often goes under the radar. With his ability to play spin, he is competitive and a handy bowler,” said Fleming.

Another target was an overseas pacer as a cover for Matheesha Pathirana, and the Chennai side managed to get a good option in 28-year-old Bangladeshi left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman, who comes in with a lot of experience.

With a winning core largely intact, CSK has come out of the auction stronger than before for its title defence and probably Dhoni’s swansong.

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