Shane Watson may have called him the 'heartbeat of Chennai Super Kings' but the CSK's top management is already looking beyond Suresh Raina in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. (More Cricket News)
Raina left the team on Saturday citing "personal reasons," but murmurs of a 'rift' between him and skipper MS Dhoni have surfaced.
Speaking to Outlook on Sunday, CSK owner and former BCCI president N. Srinivasan said Raina's sudden exit left the team in a bit of shock but skipper Dhoni "was in complete control of the situation."
There is nothing 'official' about why Raina left the CSK camp in a huff. Raina, a CSK loyalist since IPL started in 2008 and a Dhoni confidant, has also not clarified the reason for his sudden departure from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). IPL 2020 starts September 19 and ends on November 10.
The murder of a relative by robbers in the wee hours of August 20 in a village in Punjab's Pathankot has been cited as the "personal" reason for Raina's exit, but that may not be entirely true.
It is learnt that ever since CSK landed in Dubai on August 21, Raina was unhappy with the hotel room he was given. The veteran all-rounder was finding the stiff protocols of the bio-bubble claustrophobic and wanted a similar room that Dhoni had been provided.
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The issue with 'Raina's room not having proper balconies' became a flashpoint as the CSK team quarantined itself in the team hotel.
Dhoni could not pacify Raina and everything spun out of control. After 13 members of the CSK team, including two players, tested positive for coronavirus and were isolated, Raina's fears only grew.
Handle with care. Friendship is one delicate business. Pic - BCCI
"Cricketers are like prima donnas ... like the temperamental actors of the olden days. Chennai Super Kings have always been like a family and all seniors players have learnt to co-exist," said Srinivasan.
Srinivasan said the team was quickly trying to get over the Raina episode.
"My thinking is that if you are reluctant or not happy, go back. I don't force anyone to do anything ... sometimes success gets into your head," Srinivasan said.
'Dhoni not worried at all'
"I spoke to MS (Dhoni) and he has assured me that even if the numbers go up, there was nothing to worry. He spoke to the players through a zoom call and asked them to remain safe. You really don't know who is a passive carrier," Srinivasan said.
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The two players (pacer Deepak Chahar and wicketkeeper-batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad ) who have got infected are young and will soon get over the virus, Dhoni assured Srinivasan.
"I have got a solid captain. Dhoni is simply unfazed by anything. That is giving everyone in the team a lot of confidence," Srinivasan said.
Saying CSK had enough depth, Srinivasan said Raina's exit is good news for Ruturaj Gaikwad.
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"He is an outstanding batsman and will get a chance now. Ruturaj can become the star of the show, who knows?" the CSK chief said.
Srinivasan believes that Raina will want to come back.
"The season has not begun yet and Raina will certainly realise what he is missing and certainly all the money (a salary of 11 crores per season) he is going to lose," the CSK boss said.