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News

Harbhajan Singh not to travel with CSK squad to UAE on Friday

It is understood he will arrive a week or ten days later than the others

Harbhajan Singh reacts while bowling, Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2019 Qualifier 1, Chennai, May 7, 2019

Harbhajan Singh has changed his travel plans due to personal reasons  •  BCCI

Harbhajan Singh will not be leaving for Dubai with the rest of the Chennai Super Kings players on Friday due to personal reasons. ESPNcricinfo understands that he will arrive a week or ten days later than the squad in the UAE ahead of the 2020 IPL.
The 40-year-old offspinner will not be in Chennai when the franchise boards its flight after a five-day training camp in the city. Singh's late arrival will make it five players for the Super Kings who won't be part of the squad when it first arrives in the UAE. Faf du Plessis and Lungi Ngidi, who will arrive in early September from South Africa, and Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner and Dwayne Bravo who are playing in the CPL, are the others. Ravindra Jadeja had also missed the camp in Chennai due to personal reasons, but he will be on the flight on Friday.
The Super Kings have been proactive in their efforts to begin training as soon as possible, and had even sought to begin their conditioning camp as early as August 9 in the UAE, more than a month before the tournament begins on September 19. The chief reason behind this was the fitness of their squad, which has the oldest average age in the tournament and has a mix of retired and inactive players.
Singh is one such player, having last played a competitive match in May last year, for the Super Kings in the IPL final which they lost by one run to Mumbai Indians. He was their third-highest wicket-taker last season, with 16 wickets in 11 matches at an economy rate of 7.09. Another key player, Suresh Raina, also last played in that fixture, whereas MS Dhoni's last match was during India's World Cup semi-final loss last year.
Given these concerns around fitness and preparedness, the Super Kings were the first team to begin their training camp even in the pre-covid world. Senior players like Raina and Ambati Rayudu had begun training as early as December 2019 to get in shape for the tournament that was originally scheduled to begin on March 29. There won't be quite as much time for this edition, which will comprise 60 matches and last 53 days.
The Super Kings also plan to travel with exclusive net bowlers, mainly comprising first-class, Under-19 and Under-23 state-level players for practice sessions in the UAE. Singh will otherwise be part of a spin-heavy Super Kings attack, featuring Jadeja, Tahir, Santner, Karn Sharma and Piyush Chawla.