New Delhi: Former India hockey World Cup-winning star Ashok Diwan on Wednesday sympathised with cricketer Suresh Raina for withdrawing from the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) camp after he reportedly found the COVID-19 protocols unsettling in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying he experienced a similar jail-like confinement to a small hotel room during his quarantine in Delhi recently.
Diwan, who was part of the Indian team that clinched the 1975 World Cup, said that he spent 11 "forgettable" days confined to a hotel room in Delhi in May. He had returned from the United States of America after meeting his son. He likened his quarantine period to a jail term.
Raina, who recently retired from international cricket along with his good friend MS Dhoni, was in the UAE for the IPL, which is scheduled to begin on September 19.
"I can understand what Raina might have gone through while being confined to a room during the quarantine period, if that is the real reason for his return to India from the UAE. I felt the same. I found it very difficult to kill time inside the room. My hotel room's windows would not open and had no balcony, though it was an air-conditioned room. I missed fresh air; it was like a jail," Diwan told IANS on Wednesday.
"The food would be left outside the door, and the man would just keep it outside the door, ring the bell to inform about it, and leave. Also, I had to do the bed. No man would come inside the room. Only I know how I spent those 11 days in solitary confinement of that small hotel room. It was really tough on me. When I came out of it, it was like I was out of jail," said the 66-year-old Delhi-based former player.
Diwan, however, pointed out that his case and that of Raina are slightly different. "I had no option but to comply with the Indian government's protocols for people returning to India from foreign countries and go into a 14-day quarantine. My quarantine period was reduced to 11 days. And Raina was in quarantine as per another country's COVID-19 quarantine protocols when he was going to compete in a cricket tournament," said the diminutive Diwan, who represented India from 1975 to 1981.
Another difference between the two is that when Diwan went into quarantine in May he was about to turn 66 while Raina is 33.
Several reasons are being cited for Raina's return, and one of them is that he felt uneasy in the room that he was staying in. And, on his return to India, Raina has said that he took the decision to withdraw for family reasons, and has talked in a conciliatory tone. He told NDTV that the hotel room was not the reason for his withdrawal. There are also hints that he might re-join the CSK camp for the IPL.