Suresh Raina's sudden exit from Chennai's camp in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the 13th edition of the Indian T20 League has forced the team owner and former BCCI president, N Srinivasan to issue a statement, saying that although his departure has left the team in a shock, he won't force anyone against their wish of not staying back.
The southpaw made himself unavailable for the tournament as he decided to return back to India for 'personal reasons', but reports have it that the 33-year-old wasn't feeling secured inside a heavily protected bio-secure bubble, where the cases of the global virus took the Chennai team by a surprise. As many as two players from the squad followed by other members of the staff were tested positive for the virus in recent days.
That coupled with Raina's departure will leave the Chennai team somehow short in experience as they gear up for the tournament opener. Speaking about the incident, Srinivasan issued a warning for Raina, saying that the left-hander will regret his decision and would 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," Srinivasan told Outlook.
"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."
Above all these recent developments, reports have it that a rift surfaced between Raina and Dhoni, Srinivasan says the captain "was in complete control of the situation." There has been no word from Raina as of now, but it is being quoted that his departure was followed after his relative was murdered in a robbery. However, the murmurs of him being unhappy with the hotel room he was allotted have also been a shocker.
After struggling to cope with the strict protocols of the bio-bubble, the southpaw was said to be unhappy with his hotel room and demanded the same one as captain MS Dhoni. While the Chennai team was quarantined, Raina's room not having proper balconies suddenly took the centre stage.
"Cricketers are like prima donnas ... like the temperamental actors of the olden days. Chennai have always been like a family and all seniors players have learnt to co-exist," said Srinivasan.
"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."
Raina's exit means Ruturaj Gaikwad - who was one amongst the two players to have contracted the virus - will have a shot in the first team.
"He is an outstanding batsman and will get a chance now. Ruturaj can become the star of the show, who knows?" the Chennai chief said.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Arun Sankar