Chennai Super Kings in trouble as Raina leaves and virus cases rise
Suresh Raina. AFP files
The Indian Premier League on Saturday confirmed that two players have tested positive for coronavirus before the start of the world's richest Twenty20 tournament and reports said they were from Chennai Super Kings.
The three-time champions also lost key batsman Suresh Raina for "personal reasons" and doubts are growing whether they will take part in the gala opening game on September 19. The much-delayed IPL has been moved to the United Arab Emirates because of the growth of the pandemic in India and teams are being kept in strict isolation bubbles.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India said two players and 11 other support staff and officials have Covid-19 but did not name the team involved. "Thirteen personnel have tested positive of which two are players," said a BCCI statement.
"All the affected personnel as well as their close contacts are asymptomatic and have been isolated from other team members," said the board, which added that about 2,000 tests had been carried out on players and staff since August 20.
Indian media reports said bowler Deepak Chahar, an Indian one-day international, was one of the two players while the other was a batsman, though not Raina. The team now face questions over their decision to hold a training camp in their home city before heading to Dubai. They were the only one of the eight teams to practice in India.
Chennai's troubles deepened with the loss of Raina. "Suresh Raina has returned to India for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the remainder of the IPL season," the team announced on Twitter. "Chennai Super Kings offers complete support to Suresh and his family during this time."
Chennai lost to Mumbai Indians in last year's final and traditionally the two sides would open this tournament. The IPL has not yet released a schedule for the league, which runs through to November 10. But reports said Chennai would struggle to be ready for the first game.
The IPL was originally scheduled to start in March but has been repeatedly put back because of the coronavirus.