It marked the first time in IPL history that a team that won the trophy thrice beat a hasty retreat. The Men in Yellow had made the playoffs in each of their ten IPL seasons since 2008.
With a returning Suresh Raina and some new additions, CSK, under a rejuvenated MS Dhoni, will be keen to get back to winning ways.
Dhoni and co. open their IPL 2021 campaign against the Delhi Capitals at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 10 (Saturday). Ahead of their season opener, let's have a look at the Chennai Super Kings' strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
IPL 2021: Chennai Super Kings' Strengths
#1 Immense experience and an astute captain in MS Dhoni
There is a reason why the Chennai Super Kings have been one of the most successful franchises in the IPL.
MS Dhoni's captaincy has been integral to the team's success. While his waning batting prowess has been a cause of concern in recent times, the 39-year-old is more than capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat.
Dhoni's 58.8% winning record in the IPL is the best after Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma's (60.3%). The Chennai Super Kings will surely look to their captain for inspiration as they seek a better IPL outing than in the last edition.
In Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis, Chennai Super Kings boast a wealth of experience, arguably more than that of any other team in the league. On their day, any of these world-class players can take down the opposition.
#2 Smart buys in the IPL 2021 auction
Chennai Super Kings were keen on acquiring the services of T20 specialist Glenn Maxwell ahead of IPL 2021. They were involved in an intense bidding war with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who secured the player's services.
However, CSK have made some smart acquisitions in Karnataka all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham, Moeen Ali and Indian Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara.
IPL 2021: Chennai Super Kings' Weaknesses
#1 MS Dhoni is both the boon and the bane
It is no secret that MS Dhoni's Midas touch is on the wane. His finishing abilities have come into question in recent times, and his lack of game time just adds to the rust factor.
2020 was a below-par IPL season for the talismanic captain, as he failed to notch up a single 50 in the 14 games he played. Dhoni's batting average of 25 was his lowest since 2008 as he scraped through to register 200 runs at a strike rate of 116.2
While these numbers are a sharp decline to his 2019 stats, Dhoni's cricketing brain is still sharp, and that might be what CSK could benefit from. Nevertheless, only time will tell how Dhoni fares in IPL 2021.
#2 Ageing superstars in the age of fit-as-a-fiddle players
More than what the veterans would bring to the table, the major concern for the Chennai Super Kings would be how they cope with the tremendous strain of a high-octane and breezy tournament.
CSK's core squad players are all over the age of 33. That may be significant in combatting fatigue in a league that has set high standards in fitness over the years.