India's Harbhajan pulls out of coronavirus-hit IPL

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Harbhajan Singh celebrates with his Chennai Super Kings team-mates during the 2019 IPL.
Harbhajan Singh celebrates with his Chennai Super Kings team-mates during the 2019 IPL.
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Former India Test off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Friday added to a growing list of top names to pull out of the coronavirus hit Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 40-year-old has also become the second key player to withdraw from three-time champions Chennai Super Kings ahead of the start on 19 Septemberin United Arab Emirates.

"Dear Friends, I will not be playing IPL this year due to personal reasons," Harbhajan announced on Twitter.

"These are difficult times and I would expect some privacy as I spend time with my family."

Harbhajan, who had been at the centre of growing speculation as he had not joined the other players in Dubai, said Chennai had been "extremely supportive" and he wished them a "great IPL".

Former Test batsman Suresh Raina went to Dubai with Chennai but flew back last weekend, also for "personal reasons". He cited a deadly attack on his family by robbers after leaving.

The tournament was moved out of India because of the pandemic. But two Chennai players - Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad - and 11 officials and support staff have tested positive for coronavirus and this has delayed the start of Chennai's training.

Harbhajan, who has claimed 150 wickets in 160 IPL appearances, was part of the Mumbai Indians squad for 10 years before joining Chennai in 2018.

Other big name players have also withdrawn from the tournament in recent days.

England's Jason Roy of the Delhi Capitals will not go because of injury. Australian international Kane Richardson pulled out of Royal Challengers Bangalore to be at the birth of his first child.

The IPL has yet to release a fixture list for the league, which runs through to 10 November.

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