Covid effect: CSK struggle to find Josh Hazlewood’s replacement

Fringe players turn down offer to be part of team
CHENNAI: Covid-19 is calling the shots in the build-up to the IPL yet again and the teams are feeling the heat, Chennai Super Kings being no exception. The team, which had a number of players positive before the event in UAE last year, hasn’t been affected on that front yet, but one of the members of their content team has tested positive. The officials, though, insisted that it is a minor hiccup, the bubble wasn’t breached and the member didn’t come in contact with players.
But they are finding it tough to get a replacement for Aussie pacer Josh Hazlewood due to the rise in the number of cases in Mumbai, where the team is based. It was told that after the Aussie pace bowler pulled out at the last moment, the CSK management contacted quite a few players who were not ready to come down to Mumbai.
One understands that Australian pace bowler Billy Stanlake was the first one to be approached but the Aussie turned it down. Given the interest of players to be part of the IPL, it is unthinkable that a cricketer who isn’t a regular in his national team will turn down a lucrative offer to play for CSK. Covid is definitely one of the reasons behind the player’s reluctance to come down. Another player who was approached was left-arm pacer Reece Topley, who was part of the England limited-overs side in the recently concluded ODI series against India.
“Many of them have contracts with English county teams and the permissions aren’t forthcoming due to the rising number of Covid cases,” a source close to the developments told TOI. However, CSK haven’t given up hope and they are trying to rope in a decent replacement. “We may have to go for a wildcard and may get one soon enough. But the problems do persist,” the source added.
The team, though, is taking utmost care to ensure that they don’t have to deal with a situation like last year’s when first-team regulars like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar’s preparations were severely affected by Covid.
Rusty Raina may find a place in XI
Suresh Raina, who returned from UAE before the IPL last season due to ‘personal reasons’, has been out of practice and is trying to work his way back in Mumbai. He didn’t join the likes of MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu when they were training in Chennai and now has a race against time in Mumbai to be ready for the first game.
While Dhoni has had 24 two-hour batting sessions since March to get back into the groove, Raina had merely two and it’s not making things easy for him. But CSK want to use his experience and that is why he was retained for this season despite last year’s fiasco. There are a couple of practice games for CSK before their first game on April 10 and the feeling is he will be ready before the ball rolls.
Jadeja fit, Ruturaj set to open
Meanwhile Ravindra Jadeja, who is returning from an injury, has looked sharp in the practice sessions in Mumbai and the team management has no worries about his fitness. “He batted and bowled in the nets and looked pretty good at that. He will definitely be part of the playing XI,” the source added. Meanwhile, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, who impressed during the latter part of the IPL last season, is almost certain to open this time around.

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