Ruturaj Gaikwad, the second player in the Chennai Super Kings contingent to test positive for Covid-19 last month, will not be available for selection for the team's opening game, the IPL 2020 tournament opener against Mumbai Indians on September 19. Gaikwad has finished his two-week quarantine and is understood to be asymptomatic, but he is yet to clear the two mandatory Covid-19 tests put in place by the IPL for him to re-join the squad.
"We are waiting for BCCI to give us a clearance on Gaikwad. He has to undergo the fitness tests [as well]," Kasi Viswanathan, Super Kings' chief executive officer, told ESPNcricinfo. Viswanathan said it could take "another two days at least" to get a clear idea on when Gaikwad could return.
Viswanathan said Gaikwad continues to remain in a separate isolation facility, outside the team hotel. Less than a week after landing in the UAE on August 21, 13 members of Super Kings' set-up had tested positive for Covid-19 and were moved out of the team hotel immediately.
As per the IPL's medical guidelines, any player in the bubble testing positive first has to isolate for 14 days followed by testing negative twice. The two tests are carried out on consecutive days. After that, he has to undergo medical tests put in place by BCCI's team before he can start training.
India fast bowler Deepak Chahar, who was the other Super Kings player to test positive for Covid-19 last month, underwent a similar process. Chahar recovered in time to be ready for the opening match.
In the wake of Super Kings stalwart Suresh Raina's sudden withdrawal from the IPL last month, the franchise had said it was confident Gaikwad could fill in for Raina. Gaikwad has scored more List A runs than anyone for India A in the last two years - 843 runs in 15 innings. All those runs came while batting at No. 3, the position Raina mostly batted at for Super Kings.
Gaikwad began the 2019-20 season with a below-par Vijay Hazare Trophy, the 50-over competition, but bounced back in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the T20 tournament. His tally of 419 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 146.30 was only second to Devdutt Padikkal's 580 runs in 12 innings.
Hazlewood and Curran's availability for first match remains unclear
Viswanthan also said that the IPL has not yet given its final word on whether players arriving from the England v Australia series, which concludes on Wednesday, will be exempt from the mandatory six-day quarantine.
Super Kings have two players arriving from England series: Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood and England bowling allrounder Sam Curran. Considering the players would be moving from one bubble (in England) to another (in the UAE), franchises have been requesting the IPL to reconsider the quarantine period to make them available for the teams' first games.
The IPL is understood to have told franchises that it needs to be absolutely certain about the commute from England to the UAE - which would be on a charter flight - being safe. Only then can it take a final call, in coordination with the local government authorities in the UAE.
Viswanthan confirmed that all the players arriving from the Caribbean Premier League, including former South Africa legspinner Imran Tahir and West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo were fit and available for selection for the first match.
Super Kings, who finished runners-up last season in the IPL, are schedule to play three matches in the first week of the tournament. After the opening match against Mumbai in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Super Kings play Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah on September 22 and then travel to Dubai to take on Delhi Capitals on September 25.