There was finally some good news in store for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). All players in their squad for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) except Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaekwad have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
The final test reports of the CSK squad came on Friday (September 4) morning, which means the players will be able to start training in Abu Dhabi from the evening.
The results are a major relief to the franchise, which was hit by 13 positive cases last week. The IPL 2020 is due to start on September 19 and will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
“The training starts from today. All others, apart from the 13, tested negative for the third time. Those who tested positive will only be tested after the isolation period (two weeks) is over,” CSK CEO KS Viswanathan was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad, along with 11 staff members of the contingent, will be tested twice by the end of next week when their 14-day isolation period gets over. They need to return with two negative tests before being allowed to train.
Deepak Chahar is a first team starter in this line-up while Ruturaj Gaikwad is being groomed for the top-order in place of veteran Suresh Raina, who quit the tournament citing personal reasons and is unlikely to make a comeback.
CSK starting off with their training is good news for the IPL governing council as it means that their marquee opening-round clash against the Mumbai Indians on September 19 “is very much on” contrary to some media speculation.
There was, however, no confirmation either from off-spinner Harbhajan Singh or the CSK about the delay in the off-spinner joining the camp. There is speculation that he might pull out of the tournament due to personal reasons. Kasi Viswanathan declined to comment on the issue.
For the record, CSK has three front-line spinners apart from Harbhajan Singh -- leg-spinner Imran Tahir, left-armer Mitchell Santner and seasoned leg break bowler Piyush Chawla, who was bought for a hefty sum.
Kasi Viswanthan also told ESPNCricinfo that the franchise had not discussed anything further on Suresh Raina's desired return to the Super Kings squad. Late last month, Raina returned to India citing difficulties in coping with the bio-secure bubble.
In a number of media interviews since, Suresh Raina has expressed keenness to return to UAE.
CSK were the first franchise to begin on-field preparations for the upcoming season, when they held a five-day camp in Chennai before flying out to the UAE.
They had expected to begin training on August 28, but extended their quarantine to aim for a September 1 training date before it emerged that 13 team personnel - including two players - had tested positive for Covid-19.