The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) had their worst-ever Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign last year, as they finished 7th and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their storied history.
MS Dhoni's men had a good IPL 2021 auction, though. They signed off-spinning all-rounders Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham, along with a few young Indian talents and veteran batsman Cheteshwar Pujara.
CSK will aim to put the demons of their IPL 2020 campaign behind them, and start afresh on their quest to pull level with the Mumbai Indians as the most successful franchise in league history.
CSK's predicted playing XI for IPL 2021
This year's IPL is still months away, but we attempt to predict what CSK's ideal playing XI will look like.
CSK's squad for IPL 2021: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth
Openers: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis
After a highly disappointing start to his IPL career, Ruturaj Gaikwad came into his own towards the end of CSK's season. The young opener smashed fifties in each of his last 3 games, and looked classy and confident in the middle.
Gaikwad didn't have great returns in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, but he'll be keen to make an impression once again for CSK. He has the perfect platform to launch his career under the watchful eye of MS Dhoni, who will no doubt back him fully this time around.
Gaikwad has a number of options who could partner him at the top of the order. N Jagadeesan has scored heaps of runs as usual, while Robin Uthappa has made his way to the team from the Rajasthan Royals. Ambati Rayudu has opened the innings in the past as well, but the most likely choice is Faf du Plessis.
Du Plessis was CSK's standout batsman last year, aggregating 449 runs in 13 games at an average of 40.81 and a strike rate of 140.75. The South African, who recently retired from Test cricket, is best utilised at the top of the order.
CSK will have a solid Indian-overseas, youthful-experienced opening pair if they go for Gaikwad and Du Plessis.