Skipper MS Dhoni and all other Chennai Super Kings players, except for the COVID-19 afflicted duo of Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad, will start training from Friday evening after clearing a third round of testing for the virus in Dubai.
The results are a major relief to the franchise, which was hit by 13 positive cases last week. The event 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 told PTI.
Deepak and Ruturaj, 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 is a first team starter in this line-up while Ruturaj 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 is no confirmation either from veteran 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. Viswanathan declined to comment on the issue.
For the record, CSK has three front-line spinners apart from Harbhajan — leg-spinner Imran Tahir, left-armer Mitchell Santner and seasoned leg break bowler Piyush Chawla, who was bought for a hefty sum.