Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh pulled out of the upcoming thirteenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday and incidentally became the second high-profile Chennai Super Kings cricketer after left-handed batsman Suresh Raina to exit the entire IPL 2020 season due to personal reasons. Although the superstar bowler issued a statement saying he wanted to be with his family during this "difficult" time and the CSK management extending their support towards his decision, speculations were rife that he might have taken the step due to the 13 members in the CSK contingent, including two players testing positive for COVID-19. 

Having said that, a friend of Harbhajan Singh issued a clarification stating the cricketer's decision was purely personal and the situation in the UAE with the CSK team had nothing to do with him to pull out of IPL 2020. "It wasn’t about the Covid cases in the Chennai camp. But if you have a wife and toddler staying in India for three months, your mind will be diverted and you can’t fully focus on the game. Then it doesn’t matter whether you get two crore or 20 crore. Money is last on your mind," a friend of the player issued a statement to news agency PTI on conditions of anonymity.

Currently in his hometown Jalandhar, Punjab, Harbhajan Singh has requested privacy after his decision. "I will not be playing IPL this year due to personal reasons. These are difficult times and I would expect some privacy as I spend time with my family. CSK management has been extremely supportive and I wish them a great IPL Stay safe and Jai Hind," Harbhajan tweeted on Friday.

Harbhajan has stated that he was grateful to the CSK management for acknowledging and understanding his priorities. "When I told the CSK management about my decision, they were very supportive and I can’t thank them enough for that," the off-spinner said. With 150 wickets under his belt, he is the third-highest wicket-taker in IPL's history and was brought into the Chennai Super Kings squad ahead of IPL 2018 for his base price of Rs 2 crore. With Harbhajan now out IPL 2020, CSK will be relying on their three front-line spinners - leg-spinner Imran Tahir, left-armer Mitchell Santner and seasoned leg-break bowler Piyush Chawla.