MS Dhoni has landed in Chennai. That means the Chennai Super Kings are back in town ahead of IPL 2021. Dhoni reached Chennai on Wednesday evening for the Super Kings preparatory camp, which is set to begin on March 9. Among the other Super Kings players that will join Dhoni in the camp, which will be held at the MA Chidambaram stadium, are the batting pair of Ambati Rayudu and Ruturaj Gaikwad along with the uncapped Tamil Nadu players.
According to Kasi Viswanathan, the Super Kings' chief executive officer, Suresh Raina, the second-most senior player in the franchise, is expected to join the camp at some point next week. Viswanathan said that the majority of the squad, along with head coach Stephen Fleming and the other overseas support staff, are expected to assemble around March 18. Former India fast bowler L Balaji, who is the Super Kings' bowling coach, along with fielding coach Rajeev Kumar, will assist Dhoni during the initial part of the camp.
Ravindra Jadeja, who has been ruled of the Test and T20I segments of India's series against England due to a finger surgery he underwent during the Test series in Australia, will be joining the Super Kings only in the first week of April. Jadeja is currently at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, and earlier this week posted videos and pictures of him returning to active training. It is not clear if he will picked for the three-match ODI series against England, scheduled in Pune in late March.
"The camp will begin with all available players from March 9. The tentative plan is to go on until the tournament starts," Viswanathan said. Viswanathan pointed out that the Super Kings will operate out of bio-secure environment, a mandatory requirement during the pandemic. Incidentally, several members of the Super Kings contingent tested positive - including the pair of Gaikwad and fast bowler Deepak Chahar - last August, immediately after landing in Dubai for the 2020 IPL. The franchise has decided to be extra vigilant this time around.
Asked whether the franchise planned to vaccinate players, Viswanathan said no firm decision had been taken. "All the players, coaching staff and those part of the team bubble who arrive to Chennai will be in quarantine for five days at the team hotel, where they cannot come out of the room during this period," Viswanathan said. Post quarantine all members in the bubble will undergo testing before starting the camp. Testing will carry on every fifth day.
Ahead of IPL 2020, the Super Kings were the only team to conduct a preparatory camp before heading to the UAE. However once more than a dozen positive cases were reported from the Super Kings contingent in the UAE, questions were raised about how secure the camp was in Chennai.
Vishwanathan said that the franchise had taken all necessary precautions last year, too. He said crowds and media would not be able to enter the ground to watch the preparatory camp. Also, the groundstaff and security at the venue would be undergoing testing and stay away when the squad is training. "The entire staff at the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, along with ground staff and security, will be tested frequently."