Chennai Super Kings suffered another blow on Friday when senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh pulled out of IPL 2020 for personal reasons.
This follows the COVID positive tests of Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad and the pulling out of the influential Suresh Raina.
The vastly experienced 40-year-old Harbhajan has 417 Test wickets, 269 ODI scalps and 235 victims in the Twenty20 format. Also, he has kept himself fit. Last season he had picked up 16 wickets in 11 matches at 7.09. He has been with CSK for the past two years.
Harbhajan said on Twitter: “Dear friends, I will not be playing in IPL this year due to personal reasons. These are difficult times and I would expect some privacy as I spend time with my family. @Chennai IPL CSK management has been extremely supportive and I wish them a great IPL. Stay safe and Jai Hind.”
Talking to The Hindu from Dubai, CSK CEO K.S. Viswanathan said, “Yes, he has pulled out. He informed us on Friday. He said his mother was old and he had personal reasons for not taking part.” Harbhajan was expected to join the squad on September 1 — the rest of the team reached Dubai on August 21. Viswanathan said he would discuss with captain M.S. Dhoni about seeking a replacement for Harbhajan.
CSK does not have another off-spinner in the squad, but according to Viswanathan, “Kedar Jadhav [essentially a batsman] can chip in with a few overs of off-spin.”
On the positive side, CSK players — apart from Chahar and Gaikwad — tested negative in their second and final COVID test and began practice on Friday under lights.