Chennai Super Kings CSK, over the years, have taken pride in the fact that they are a closely-knit unit. Players have often stressed that CSK’s ability to create a family-like atmosphere has been one of their secrets to success in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Be it MS Dhoni overseeing a race between Shane Watson and Imran Tahir’s sons or Ziva Dhoni or Gracia Raina lighting up the mood in the camp, families of the players and the support staff had been a constant presence in the CSK set-up.
However, things are going to be a little different in IPL 2020, which is scheduled to be held in the UAE in bio-secure environments across Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The 13th edition of the league, which was initially postponed due to the pandemic, will be held from September 19 to November 10.
CSK chief executive Kasi Viswanathan has confirmed that the families of players and the team support staff will not be accompanying the 3-time champions at least during the first part of IPL 2020. Viswanathan said a call on families joining the players and support staff in the UAE for the 2nd half of the tournament will be taken later after taking into account how things work out over the course of the 13th edition.
“Families are not travelling with the team (to UAE) for the first part of the tour. We will decide (whether they can accompany players and team support staff later) later depending on how things work out there,” Kasi Viswanathan
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in its 16-page Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) document, said families can accompany players and the team support staff in the UAE. However, it was mentioned that family members need to undergo most of the bio-secure environment protocols.
The bio-secure protocols include Covid-19 tests, social distancing with players, other families and ban on meeting anyone outside the biosecure bubble. The BCCI also advised families against sharing food or drinks during the tournament.
Players and team support staff are required to take 5 Covid-19 PCR tests before entering the biosecure bubble in the UAE after which they will be taking tests every fifth day.
Plans for virtual fan engagement?
Kasi Viswanathan also said there is no scope for fans to travel to the UAE but their social media and web teams will make sure Chennai Super Kingsfollowers will engage with the team virtually during IPL 2020.
“We are not taking any of them, in this bio-bubble environment, we have no plans,” Viswanathan said.
Asked if the team is planning for virtual engagement of fans, Viswanathan said: “that we will work out with our social media and web teams. They will take care of the fans.”
‘CSK is suited to playing in all conditions’
Meanwhile, Viswanathan is confident that CSK will be able to adapt to conditions in the UAE. He pointed out how CSK went on to win the IPL title in 2018 despite not playing 6 of their 7 games at Chepauk.
“We based our picking of teams on Chennai but we were forced to go to Pune (in 2018). Even though there was a difference in conditions, we won that year. See we have to adjust to whatever conditions the pitches are, the team, I believe, is suited to all conditions,” Viswanathan said.
CSK’s local players and support staff are expected to arrive in Chennai on August 14 and will fly out of the city to the UAE on August 21.