One jolt after another. The Chennai Super Kings is going through a challenging phase ahead of the upcoming IPL in the UAE.
After being hit by COVID-19 — two of its players, swing bowler Deepak Chahar and young batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, have tested positive — CSK lost its batting mainstay Suresh Raina on Saturday.
The southpaw has pulled out of the tournament for “personal reasons”. There, reportedly, has been a bereavement in his family.
CSK CEO K.S. Viswanathan said in an official release, “Suresh Raina has returned to India for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the remainder of the IPL season. Chennai Super Kings offers complete support to Suresh and his family during this time.”
According to IPL rules, if the reason for a player withdrawing from a team is genuine, a replacement will be provided. CSK has already sought one. But then, Raina’s will be big shoes to fill. The left-hander has been hugely influential over the years. With 5,368 runs, he is the second highest scorer in IPL history. He figured in 158 successive games for CSK before missing a match owing to an injury.
Simply put, the 33-year-old Raina has been a game-changer for the popular and successful franchise.
Meanwhile, the BCCI, in a release, said, “13 personnel have tested positive, of which two are players . All the affected personnel as well as their close contacts are asymptomatic and have been isolated from the other team members.”
1988 tests conducted
A total of 1,988 RT-PCR tests were carried out between August 20 and 28. And tests will continue at regular intervals throughout the tournament. A majority of those who have tested positive are from CSK. Apart from the two cricketers, some members of the support staff, social media team and possibly net bowlers have also failed the COVID-19 test.
They will be quarantined away from the side for two weeks and then will have to clear two tests before they can join the secure ‘bubble’ of the team.
The competition begins on September 19 and the CSK cricketers will be able to begin their practise sessions only from September 1, after spending more days under quarantine in the hotel where they are not allowed to mingle with one another.
Meanwhile, CSK’s experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh will join the team only on September 1 due to ‘personal’ reasons. He will be quarantined away from the rest of the team for seven days, and, apart from clearing two COVID-19 tests in India, will have to pass three of them in the UAE, on arrival in Dubai and on days three and six, before he can join the team.
The last few days have tested CSK’s resolve. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have a fight on their hands.
(With inputs from Amol Karhadkar)