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COVID turmoil for IPL: 13 positive cases in CSK, Raina returns home for "personal reasons"

New Delhi/Dubai: Two cricketers among a total of 13 COVID-19 cases and all-rounder Suresh Raina's pullout owing to "personal reasons" caused quite a bit of turbulence for the upcoming IPL on Saturday with Chennai Super Kings being the worst hit franchise.

Raina, who retired from international cricket earlier this month, decided to "return home for personal reasons" as his team CSK grappled with 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases in its camp. The tournament starts September 19 and will be played across three cities in the UAE.

"Thirteen personnel have tested positive of which 2 are players. All the affected personnel as well as their close contacts are asymptomatic and have been isolated from other team members. They are being monitored by the IPL Medical Team," the BCCI press release stated without naming the franchise.

The two players who have tested positive include a white-ball T20 specialist seamer for India and a top-order India A batsman. The Board did not reveal any names.

The BCCI stated that a total of 1,988 RT-PCR COVID-19 tests were carried out between August 20 and 28 across all participant groups in the UAE.

The ones tested include players, support staff, team management, BCCI staff, IPL operational team, hotel and ground transport staff.

"As per the IPL 2020 Health and Safety Protocols, testing on all participants will be conducted regularly throughout the IPL 2020 Season," it further stated.

All positive cases need to go through a 14-day quarantine period following which they will have to return two negative RT-PCR tests before being allowed inside the bio-bubble for the tournament.

Raina's pullout came as a shocker and so far, it is being attributed to his desire for some downtime with his young family in these testing times. The player is yet to issue a formal statement on his reasons for coming back.

"Suresh Raina has returned to India for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the remainder of the IPL season. Chennai Super Kings offers complete support to Suresh and his family during this time," CSK tweeted CEO Kasi Viswanathan's statement.

CSK's quarantine period in Dubai has already been extended till September 1.

"Suresh's absence will be a big blow for the CSK and also, he is one of the biggest draws in IPL. But in these times, if any player doesn't feel 100 per cent and has some other pressing priorities, any team respects that and CSK is no different," a senior IPL official privy to development in CSK camp told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

While it couldn't be officially confirmed but speculation was rife that a family tragedy coupled with a spike in COVID-19 cases in the team might have disturbed the former India left-hander who retired on August 15 alongside his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Amid all this, there was some good news as well with Rajasthan Royals fielding coach Dishant Yagnik recovering from COVID-19 to join the squad in Dubai.

He has completed his 14-day quarantine along with two negative reports as he joined the squad in Dubai.

The IPL -- to be played in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi -- will conclude on November 10. The BCCI has not unveiled the tournament schedule till now.

While it is understood that the high-profile event is not under threat as of now but one franchise becoming a "COVID-19 hotspot" is slowly becoming an issue for other teams as well as the BCCI.

"If there are 13 cases from only one franchise then it is an issue for sure for everyone. The biggest aspect will be whether foreign cricketers will now start being panicky as they are more touchy about these issues," an official said.

"We need to keep a tab on players' mental health," he added.

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