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Suresh Raina's exit from Chennai Super Kings camp due to concerns over bubble, isolation

A personal tragedy also played its part in forcing the Chennai Super Kings stalwart's hand

Nagraj Gollapudi
MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina prepare to board the bus  •  PTI

MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina prepare to board the bus  •  PTI

Apprehensions about living in a lonely, bio-secure environment with news of colleagues testing positive for Covid-19, combined with a personal tragedy are understood to be the reasons for Suresh Raina leaving the Chennai Super Kings camp and heading home from IPL 2020.
It emerged on Saturday morning, a day after it was confirmed that an India international was among at least ten Super Kings contingent members to test positive for the virus, that Raina was leaving for what team CEO Kasi Viswanathan called "personal reasons". It is understood that Raina flew out of Dubai, where the Super Kings are staying, on Saturday. This came nine days since the touring party landed in Dubai to take part in the IPL, which is scheduled to be played in the UAE between September 19 and November 10, though the final list of fixtures isn't out yet.
Raina, who has a young family including two children, is believed to have told the team management - Viswanathan, captain MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming - that he was finding it difficult being "cooped up" in the hotel room. Not just Raina, but several other members of Super Kings contingent have been troubled by the team hotel, which is in a desolate part of town.
The other factor is that members of Raina's extended family were attacked - with an uncle killed, according to reports - on August 19, in Pathankot in northern India.
Raina's decision apparently caught the Super Kings management by surprise, because he had only recently committed to helping the team win its fourth IPL title. But he communicated to the management that he was finding it difficult to stay in the bubble.
Before reaching Dubai, Raina had experienced life in a bubble during the team's six-day camp in Chennai between August 16 and 20.
According to the IPL standard operating procedures, all players and other members of the eight travelling parties are required to undergo a mandatory six-day quarantine upon landing in the UAE, distancing has to be practiced at all times, and players are not allowed to mingle even with team-mates during the course of the tournament. Having not played cricket since March - or even earlier in some cases - several players have admitted to having self-doubt - for example, KL Rahul, the Kings XI Punjab captain, recently said he had "nightmares": "What if I can't pick the line and length of the ball? What if I become slower? What if I don't have the same cover drive as before?' All these question marks were there," he said.
While most of the teams got their training sessions underway over Friday and Saturday, the Super Kings, because of the recent developments in their camp, are going to start only after September 1. While some teams have made an effort to keep players motivated and positive in the bubble - many teams are at hotels with private beaches, though not all of them have allowed their members to use the facilities yet - some teams have hired psychologists for the players, and others, to speak to - Royal Challengers Bangalore even have a psychologist travelling with the team. And Mumbai Indians are among the teams to allow players to travel with their partners.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo