Chennai Super Kings' veteran Suresh Raina has pulled out of the entire 13th edition of the Indian Premier League citing "personal reasons", the franchise confirmed on Saturday.
Raina, who had announced his retirement from international cricket earlier this month, has returned to his home in India to spend time with his young family.
"Suresh Raina has returned to India for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the remainder of the IPL season. Chennai Super Kings offers complete support to Suresh and his family during this time," Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan informed.
Raina's exit is a big blow to the CSK camp, that is already reeling with the news of multiple members of its support staff and an active Indian white-ball player testing positive for the coronavirus.
The 33-year-old had accompanied his team's squad when they landed in Dubai on August 21 before undergoing mandatory quarantine and Covid-19 tests.
While the team was expected to begin training a week later, their isolation period has been extended in light of the unprecedented positive tests.
The CSK will thus be the last team among the eight IPL franchises to start training ahead of the IPL season when they take to the nets on September 1.
Raina is the most experienced player in IPL history with 193 caps under his belt. He is his side's leading run-getter with an astonishing tally of 4527 runs from 164 games.
The talismanic all-rounder had taken part in the five-day pre-season training camp in Chennai, which included the likes of MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay and Piyush Chawla and bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji in the mix. That preparatory camp has come under scrutiny in recent days following the disclosure of Covid-19 infections in the support staff.
"Suresh's absence will be a big blow for the CSK and also, he is one of the biggest draws in IPL. But in these times, if any player doesn't feel 100 per cent and has some other pressing priorities, any team respects that and CSK is no different," a senior IPL official told PTI [Press Trust of India].
"If there are 13 cases from only one franchise then it is an issue for sure for everyone. The biggest aspect will be whether foreign cricketers will now start being panicky as they are more touchy about these issues. We need to keep a tab on players' mental health," he added.