CHENNAI: Three-time champions Chennai Super Kings had their first training session on Friday evening as barring those infected 13, all others tested Covid-19 negative in the additional tests taken on Thursday. This is the first time Chennai have stepped out of their hotel since arriving in Dubai on August 21. While they were supposed to start training last Friday, they were placed in extended quarantine after 13 members of their touring contingent tested Covid-19 positive.
This makes Chennai the last team to start training as they just have 14 more days before the tournament begins on September 19. The development comes on a day when the Super Kings revealed that Harbhajan Singh will miss the entire IPL season because of family reasons. The off-spinner is the second Chennai player ruled out of the tournament after Suresh Raina returned to India last week citing same reasons.
“I have informed the CSK management about my decision to pull out of this year’s IPL. I have decided to take a break due to personal reasons in these difficult times. I expect that everyone would respect my need for privacy. I would only say that there are times when family takes precedence over sport. My young family is my focus of attention now.
But yes my heart will be in the UAE with my team,” Harbhajan said. Harbhajan’s unavailability means, Chennai are without an off-spinner. It is not clear whether Chennai will seek a replacement for Raina and Harbhajan. If Chennai look for an off-spinner, they could turn towards Jalaj Saxena, who has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit.
With the pitches in UAE expected to assist the spinners, Chennai have the likes of the Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Mitchell Santner and R Sai Kishore in their ranks. Though Harbhajan was not considered for the away matches last season, MS Dhoni relied on the off-spinner at MAC Stadium.