Suresh Raina Exits IPL, Hints At His Return – A Timeline of Events

A timeline of the events that followed Suresh Raina’s return to India from the IPL.

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IPL
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A timeline of the events that followed Suresh Raina’s return to India from the IPL.
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It’s been a week since the already troubled IPL suffered twin blows, with 13 members of the Chennai Super Kings’ travelling party testing positive for coronavirus and Suresh Raina pulling out of the tournament.

While the 13 can still return to the IPL, after 14 days of quarantine, Raina’s decision has a more permanent consequence. Or, maybe not.

In the week since MS Dhoni’s deputy in yellow returned home to India, there have been reports of a tiff because of a hotel room balcony, confirmed news of a family tragedy in Raina’s household and also quotes of the 33-year-old hinting he may just return to the UAE for the 13th season of the Indian Premier League.

Here’s all that’s happened in the last 7 days:

COVID Tests and a CSK Tweet

On 28 August, the day Chennai Super Kings’ were supposed to complete their seven-day quarantine and start training in the UAE, reports emerged that more than 10 members of their travelling party had tested positive.

While the names of the individuals were not revealed, it was confirmed that one among them was a player and the rest were part of the support staff.

On 29 August, at 11:09 AM, CSK’s social media handles posted a message from the team’s CEO, Kasi Viswanathan, informing that Raina, the team’s vice-captain, had pulled out of the tournament and returned home to India ‘due to personal reasons’.

No further news was released by CSK and Raina, on his way back to India, did not make a statement either.

However, with the positive tests in the team the day before, questions were asked – could Raina be the player who tested positive? Was he returning out of fear for his young family, after so many around him were found to be COVID positive? After all, he had been part of the small camp of Indian players, that the franchise had held in Chennai for over a week, before their departure to the UAE.

The answer to the first question was a logical no, as he wouldn't have been allowed to travel if he were COVID positive.

The answer to the ‘why’ has become a little more clearer in the week that’s passed.

A Family Tragedy

On the evening of Raina’s departure from the IPL(on 29 August), it was learned that his extended family had been attacked on the night of 19 August, with his uncle succumbing to his injuries.

Armed robbers had attacked Raina’s father’s sister’s family in Thariyal village near Madhopur in Pathankot district, while they were asleep on the terrace of their residence, police said.

Raina’s 58-year-old uncle Ashok Kumar, a government contractor, had sustained grievous head injuries during the assault and passed away. Kumar’s 80-year-old mother Satya Devi, his wife Asha Devi, sons – Apin and Kaushal – too suffered injuries, said the police (Raina has since shared the tragic news of the passing of one of the cousins as well).

File picture of CSK boss N Srinivasan.
File picture of CSK boss N Srinivasan.
(Photo: Twitter)

Rift Over a Balcony?

A separate narrative, however, was sparked by Chennai Super Kings boss and former BCCI President N Srinivasan’s interview to Outlook magazine on 30 August.

"Cricketers are like prima donnas... like the temperamental actors of the olden days. Chennai Super Kings have always been like a family and all seniors players have learnt to co-exist," Srinivasan was quoted as saying by the magazine, with the report hinting that Raina had returned home following a rift with captain Dhoni about hotel rooms.

"The issue with 'Raina's room not having proper balconies' became a flashpoint as the CSK team quarantined itself in the team hotel,” was what the report said.

It further quoted Srinivasan as having said, "My thinking is that if you are reluctant or not happy, go back. I don't force anyone to do anything... sometimes success gets into your head."

Srini Backtracks, Says Comment Taken Out of Context

On Monday, one day after Srinivasan’s interview to Outlook, Chennai Super Kings’ Twitter handle shared an interview of their team’s owner, where he was quoted as saying, “These boys, they’re family.”

Clarifying his quote from the previous interview, where he said his words were taken out of context, Srinivasan told The Times of India, “They’ve been family for over a decade now. When I said ‘cricketers are like prima donnas’, it wasn’t in a negative sense. A prima donna is the lead singer in an opera. Similarly, cricketers are always at the forefront of an exercise like this."

Speaking of Raina’s departure, he added, "The franchise will always stand by him and he has our complete support during these times of distress."

Raina Breaks His Silence

On Tuesday, Raina finally broke his silence, three days after returning home from the IPL.

In two tweets, he shared the ordeal his family had gone through, saying his ‘uncle was slaughtered to death’ and sharing the tragic news of the passing of his cousin due to injuries he suffered during the attack by armed robbers, on the night of 19 August in a Punjab village.

"What happened to my family is Punjab was beyond horrible. My uncle was slaughtered to death, my bua (father’s sister) & both my cousins had sever injuries. Unfortunately my cousin also passed away last night after battling for life for days. My bua is still very very critical & is on life support (sic),” he Tweeted.

In another Tweet, Raina asked Punjab Police to look into the matter and bring to justice the men who attacked his family.

Punjab’s Director General of Police (DGP) has since set up a Special investigation Team (SIT) to probe the attack, on the orders of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

According to news reports, inter-state raids are now being conducted to hunt suspects involved in past crimes of similar nature, and more than 35 suspects are under the scanner.

A few persons from Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been identified as suspicious and their mobile numbers and whereabouts are being located. Raids have also been carried out in Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Amritsar in coordination with local police.

Six labourers who were working with the deceased Kumar have been interrogated.

Raina Hints at CSK Return

On Wednesday, four days after his exit from the IPL, Raina hinted that he may just come back and play for CSK this IPL season while saying his reasons for coming back to India were to do with his family.

"I have a young family back home and I was concerned about the fact that if something happened to me, unka kya hoga? (what will happen to them). My family is most important to me and I am really concerned for them during these times," he told Cricbuzz.

About reports that he left Dubai due to a rift over hotel rooms with Dhoni, he said to NDTV: "These are all fabricated stories and anyone who knows me, knows that these are all stories planted by people who don't want me or CSK to succeed.”

When asked if would consider returning to play IPL this season, he said, “You never know, you might see me in the camp again. First, I have to take care of my responsibilities here and then am ready.”

(With inputs from Outlook Magazine, The Times of India, Cricbuzz, NDTV)

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