Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are waiting with bated breath as suspense over senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh’s availability for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 continues. Harbhajan had delayed travel to the UAE due to personal reasons even as a batch of his teammates, led by MS Dhoni, arrived in Dubai on August 21.
Harbhajan will become the 2nd CSK player after Suresh Raina to pull out if the off-spinner decides against travelling to the UAE which is gearing up to host the tournament in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Harbhajan Singh did not attend the training camp in Chennai between August 15 and 20. While the likes of MS Dhoni, Raina and Murali Vijay along with other Indian players attended the camp, Ravindra Jadeja skipped it as well but the left-arm spinner joined the batch before they left for the UAE in a chartered plane.
While CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan said on Tuesday that Harbhajan would let him know about his availability in a few days, media reports claim the off-spinner may not be part of IPL 2020 due to ‘personal reasons’. Harbhajan joined the CSK camp in 2018 and was expected to play a key role in spin-friendly conditions in the UAE.
Suresh Raina quashed rumours of a rift in the CSK camp after his unforeseen withdrawal from IPL 2020 but conceded that he was concerned about the Covid-19 situation in the camp. Raina’s return to India also coincided with the attack on his relatives in Pathankot, Punjab. However, Raina did not rule out chances of his return, while speaking to Cricbuzz.
Meanwhile, Harbhajan Singh, while speaking at Salaam Cricket in June, said he wanted to participate in the IPL only if the authorities assured not just his safety but everyone else associated with the tournament.
“I really want the IPL to happen but only when things are safe not just for me but for everybody associated with the tournament. There are about 200-300 people on the ground whenever a match is played and we need to take care of the safety of everybody present,” Harbhajan had said.
“Even if there is a 1% chance of the threat of spreading Covid-19 from one of us then IPL should be further postponed. It’s not an issue even if the IPL doesn’t happen this year. Saving lives is the most important.”
CSK likely to begin training from Friday
Meanwhile, CSK are likely to hit the nets from Friday in Dubai, subject to clearance of the 2nd round of testing. The results are expected to come late on Thursday or on Friday morning, according to the PTI news agency.
Chennai Super Kings are the only team who have not begun training in the UAE. 13 of their members, including 2 India players tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week. All the 13 members are in isolation and will undergo tests after the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. All the members who tested positive for Covid-19 are stable.