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Chennai Super Kings, the defending champions of the IPL, have been dealt a massive blow ahead of the 2022 season, as their premier pacer Deepak Chahar is set to miss a major chunk of, if not the entire, tournament.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Chahar, who suffered a quadricep tear in the third T20I against West Indies last month, is likely to take several weeks to heal, meaning he could miss the IPL which will be played between March 26 and May 29.
It is understood that the Super Kings are awaiting a final assessment from the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, where Chahar is currently undergoing his rehabilitation. Chahar, 29, was the second-most expensive buy at the 2022 player auction after the Super Kings clinched him for INR 14 crore (US$1.866 million). Chahar was one of the most fiercely contested bids at the auction on the back of his success as a bowling allrounder. In his last three ODIs, Chahar showed his batting exploits with match-turning knocks: 69* (against Sri Lanka), 54 (against South Africa) and 38 (against West Indies).
At the auction, Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad engaged in a bidding race for the bowler with Rajasthan Royals and the Super Kings entering late. Chahar had played for the Super Kings from 2018 but was not retained before the auction. However, the Super Kings, whose auction strategy was focussed on retaining the core group from the previous years, raised the paddle for Chahar at the INR 11-crore mark. It was the first time Super Kings had shelled out more than INR 10 crore at any auction.
Chahar's first stint in the IPL was with Rising Pune Supergiants in 2016 when, as an uncapped fast bowler, he was bought at his base price of INR 10 lakhs. In the 2018 mega auction, the Super Kings bought him for INR 80 lakhs. It would prove to be a smart buy considering Chahar was the Super Kings' lead bowler with 58 wickets from 58 games; 42 of those wickets came in the powerplay (first six overs), which is 15 more than the next best - New Zealand fast man Trent Boult with 27 - across these four seasons.
Super Kings camp in Surat
As part of their plan to get used to the conditions in Mumbai and Pune, where the league phase will be played, the Super Kings have decided to have their preparatory camp in Surat, which is on the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The Super Kings chief executive officer Kasi Viswanathan said the camp will commence from March 8, including an initial five-day long quarantine. "With the Chennai pitch clay-based we decided to practise on wickets that will be similar to those in Mumbai and Pune. Also the travel will be easy," Viswanathan said.
The Super Kings captain MS Dhoni along with the support staff including assistant coach Laxmipathy Balaji have already landed in Surat on Wednesday. According to Viswanathan, the overseas coaching staff led by head coach Stephen Fleming will be arriving around March 12.
While the IPL is yet to release the tournament schedule, being the winner in 2021, the Super Kings will play the tournament opener. Viswanathan said Super Kings are likely to leave for Mumbai by road on March 20