On Saturday (August 29), the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) were dealt with another major blow, after 12 members of their contingent tested positive for COVID-19. Suresh Raina, Dhoni’s deputy and also known as ‘Chinna Thala’ by the CSK loyalists, opted out of the upcoming IPL season and returned to India.
In an interview to Gulf News, Ajay Sethi, the Chairman of the Channel 2 Group, which holds broadcast rights of major cricketing events in the region and a family friend of Raina said, “Suresh called me back after repeated messages from me during the day. He decided to leave the CSK camp suddenly as he was getting concerned about his wife Priyanka and their two young children [four-year-old daughter Gracia and four-month-old son Rio] in view of the pandemic situation.”
“After COVID cases in CSK, the situation got too much for him to handle. Raina told me that he started missing the family badly, especially the children, from the time he landed in Dubai. Since the CSK team management decided against players travelling with their families in the initial stages of the IPL, they could not accompany him either and even Rio’s passport was not ready,” added Sethi.
Not just Raina, but several other members of the Super Kings have been troubled by the team hotel, which is in a desolate part of town.
Raina’s uncle killed by armed robbers in Pathankot
The other reason is that members of Raina’s extended family were attacked – according to media reports – on August 19, in Pathankot in northern India. The cricketer’s uncle was identified as Ashok Kumar, a government contractor, was killed during the assault. Ashok’s mother Satya Devi, his wife Asha Devi, two sons – Apin and Kaushal – too suffered injuries.
Meanwhile, Raina’s decision to pull out of the upcoming tournament has caught the CSK management by surprise, because he had only recently committed to helping the team win their fourth IPL title. But he communicated to the management that he was finding it difficult to stay in the biosecure bubble.
Before reaching Dubai, Raina had experienced life in a bubble during the franchise’s six-day camp in Chennai from August 16 to 20.