The trade-off war between the franchises is gaining momentum before the final window ends on Friday. Chennai Super Kings, the three-time IPL champions, have now jumped into the fray by releasing one of their overseas players before the IPL auction which will take place on December 19 in Kolkata. Sam Billings, the England wicketkeeper batsman who has been a regular at Kent, has been released from the franchise. The move potentially means that MS Dhoni, for the moment, is the lone keeper in the side. However, there are talks about England's opener Tom Banton or New Zealand's Tim Seifert joining the team in Billings' expense.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings enquired about the availability of Banton for the IPL and he might be aggressively pursued by the franchises for the 2020 IPL. Seifert has been a steady figure in the New Zealand Twenty20 side and has impressed many people with his keeping and batting. Banton is in big demand, having been snapped up by Brisbane Heat for the 2019/20 Big Bash League followed by the Lahore Qalandars in the 2019/20 Pakistan Super League.
In the 2019 T20 Blast, Banton scored 549 runs in 13 innings at an average of 42.23 and a strike rate of 161.47 for Somerset. The aggregate is the second-highest in any T20 league for a player 21 or below. Billings had been bought by the Chennai Super Kings for his base price of Rs one crore but he did not get to play many games. In the 2018 edition of the tournament, Billings starred as he smashed 56 off 23 balls to help Chennai Super Kings chase down a target of over 200 against Kolkata Knight Riders at Chepauk. That was sadly the last match at the venue as the matches were moved out of the city following the Kaveri protests. The franchises are busy finalising the retained and released players list. The IPL authorities have extended the deadline to submit the same until Friday evening.
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