Varun Vyas Hebbalalu 7th September 2020
Harbhajan Singh leaves IPL 2020 (Source: AFP)
The runners-up in last year’s IPL finals—the Chennai Super Kings (CSK)—have been dealt a blow to their roster after off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, age 40, opted out of playing in the IPL 2020. The announcement came via Singh’s Twitter account. This is the second loss their team is facing, the first being Suresh Raina citing family reasons and choosing to leave the season.
The veteran bowler had attributed, in his tweet, his opting out for personal reasons and is presently in Jalandhar, Punjab. Singh has requested privacy at this time. It was already suspected by ESPNcricinfo and other sports media organisations prior to the announcement that he might choose to drop the 2020 season.
ESPNcricinfo reported that during CSK’s mid-August conditioning camp that spanned six days in Chennai, Singh was absent. He also reportedly did not travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the team when they left on the 21st of August and was slated to join them later in early September, according to Times of India. This permission was granted by CSK management but as September 1st came and went CSK CEO K.S. Viswanathan had said that they had yet to be informed of Singh’s travel plans.
Despite 13 positive COVID cases on the roster, the team claimed on their official Twitter account to be ready to play in the season opener against the Mumbai Indians. This comes following a delay in training for the contingent which ended with the team taking the field. The rest of the team is engaging in practice, with the remaining 13 to join following a negative COVID test.
Having lost both the third-highest wicket-taker and the second-highest run-scorer in the IPL of all time in Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina, CSK captain M.S. Dhoni will have a hard time replacing them and enabling the team to perform at previous seasons’ competitive level. The team has no other off-spinners. Viswanathan had told SportsStar that they needed time to find a replacement and remarked that batsman Kedar Jadhav can potentially contribute to their bowling scheme.
Harbhajan Singh had been a part of the CSK team for the last two IPL seasons at the base price of Rs. 2 crores. He has won a championship with both CSK and his former squad—the Mumbai Indians. The off-spinner has proven to be integral to CSK’s bowling attack, having ranked 10th in the IPL in wickets taken with 16 and 15th in economy with a respectable 7.09 runs per over according to records on the IPLT20 website.
(Sources: ESPNcricinfo, Times of India, IPL T20, SportsStar, Cricbuzz, NDTV, Times Now, Indian Express, Business Standard, Hindustan Times)
Edited by Varun Vyas Hebbalalu