CSK to retain Raina; Kedar, Chawla and Vijay's fate hangs in balance
Veteran Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Wednesday said his contract with IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings has ended, bringing to a conclusion his "wonderful" two-year stint with the side.
The 40-year-old spinner revealed this ahead of next month's IPL auction and hours before the list of retained players for the upcoming edition was announced.
"As my contract comes to an end with @ChennaiIPL, playing for this team was a great experience...beautiful memories made &some great friends which I will remember fondly for years to come...Thank you @ChennaiIPL, management, staff and fans for a wonderful 2years... All the best," Harbhajan tweeted.
He was part of the CSK team that won the Indian Premier League title in 2018.
Harbhajan was one of the two CSK players, along with Suresh Raina, who chose to skip the 13th edition of the IPL in the UAE last year, held in a bio-secure bubble amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Raina, though, had to rush home after a tragedy in the family.
In the 2019 season, Harbhajan picked up 16 wickets from 11 games at an average of 19.5.
In 160 IPL matches, Harbhajan has 150 wickets at an average of 26.44 and an economy rate of 7.05.
In the international arena, he has to his credit 417 Test wickets, 269 ODI scalps and 25 dismissals in T20Is.
Harbhajan last played for India during the T20 World Cup in 2016 and has featured in 103 Tests, 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is.
The IPL trading window for the franchises closes on February 4.
Later in the day, Chennai Super Kings said that they have retained Suresh Raina going into the mini-auction ahead of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League. But Kedar Jadhav, Piyush Chawla and Murali Vijay's fate hangs in balance. Foreign stars like Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis are also set to be retained while Harbhajan Singh has been released and Shane Watson has retired.
Speaking to ANI, sources in the CSK outfit said that the management will take a final call on the likes of Kedar and Chawla before submitting the final list to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at 5 pm on Wednesday. "Raina will definitely be a part of the CSK family. He is an integral member and there was never any doubt on him being retained. It was his personal call to return from UAE and the management was clear that his space needed to be respected. We expect him to fire on all cylinders this time around.
"As for Kedar, Piyush and Vijay, we will have to see. It is a touch and go situation and a final call will be taken by the senior management before the final list is submitted to the BCCI today," the source said.
Asked about any other big name who could miss out, the source said that the core would very much remain the same. "Harbhajan has been released as you are aware and Watson has retired. Apart from that, don't see any big name missing out. Bravo and du Plessis will be with us," the source pointed.
With the mini-auction inching closer, franchises looking to retain players were asked to complete the process by Wednesday. Former India batsman Aakash Chopra feels 'Dad's Army' CSK has heavily relied on senior players in the past and the time has come to introduce young guns in the side.
Mahendra Dhoni-led CSK had a dismal outing in last year's IPL. The Chennai based franchise finished at the seventh position in the points table. Chopra said CSK need to change their strategy and must retain last year's match-winners like Shardul Thakur and Ruturaj Gaikwad.
"As the deadline for the IPL Player Retention process approaches, I feel now would be the right time for CSK to shed their 'Dad's Army' tag and introduce young talent in the team," Chopra said on Star Sports show 'IPL: Retention Special'.
"Mahendra Singh Dhoni has relied heavily on senior players who have performed in the past, but he along with the CSK think-tank need to change their strategy. They would certainly need to retain last year's match-winners like Ambati Rayudu, Shardul Thakur and Ruturaj Gaikwad," he added.