IPL 2020: M.S. Dhoni, Raina and Co. to camp in Chennai till August 20

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina and 11 others landed in Chennai for a camp ahead of the Indian Premier League in the UAE starting September 19.

Chennai Super Kings captain M.S. Dhoni and vice-captain Suresh Raina at Chennai airport on Friday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

The lion is back in its lair. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has landed in his city of destiny ahead of Chennai Super King’s IPL campaign in the UAE.

Even the King’s lieutenants, including the mercurial Suresh Raina, touched down on Friday. The ultra successful and popular franchise will train in its den in Chennai till it flies to the Middle-East on August 21. The team will practice at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on August 15, 17, 18, 19 and 20. Since August 16 is a ‘lockdown’ day in the city, it will be an off-day for the cricketers too, who are put up at Crowne Plaza.

As many as 13 CSK players are in the city. The three remaining Indian players — Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh and Shardul Thakur — will join the team here on August 21 owing to personal commitments.

And the eight foreign players of this heavyweight Chennai outfit and the coaching staff will catch up with the side only in the UAE on August 21 due to the travel restrictions in the COVID-19 era.

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Former India paceman L. Balaji, CSK’s bowling coach, will oversee the Chennai camp.

Talking to Sportstar, CSK CEO K.S. Viswanathan, who will be travelling with the side, revealed every player will be tested for COVID thrice before leaving for the UAE.

“They already underwent a test on Thursday. So two more tests remain,” he revealed.

Ironically, even during days when the I, J, and K stands were sealed, the CSK practice sessions used to be a huge draw with more than 10,000 spectators chanting “Dhoni, Dhoni.”

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Now when all the stands are available, the only ones allowed into the stadium to watch the training will be the CSK players, the staff and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association officials.

Sadly, after a relentless pursuit by the TNCA — the I, J, K stands were last opened in December 2012 for an India-Pakistan ODI — and when the entire stadium is now available for the public, Chepauk will be silent with empty stands.

“It’s a pity that we will not be playing in Chennai this year when the entire stadium would have been packed,” said Viswanathan.

But then, these are very difficult, demanding times.

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