Suresh Raina : I became a real player in Chennai

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Suresh Raina : I became a real player in Chennai

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SportsCafe Desk

01/23/2018

IPL’s record run-scorer Suresh Raina has asserted that his eight-year stint with CSK helped him develop into a “real player”. Raina also went on to talk about the love that he received from the CSK fans and voiced his excitement in getting the old band together for the upcoming edition again.

Raina was a part of the successful CSK juggernaut for eight years and won two IPL titles with the Chennai-based franchise. The 31-year-old has played an incredible 161 matches in the league and had scored and 4540 runs – most by any player in the history of the league. After Chennai were banned from the league for their role in the 2013 scandal, Raina was picked up by the Gujarat franchise who he led to the top of the table in his first season there. However, now he finds himself heading back to the place that made him a “real player”.

“We have played so many matches together. We had to play for CSK again. In fact, I became a real player in Chennai,” Raina told PTI 

“The coaches and the players there like Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Muttiah Muralitharan had a fine influence on me. I have learnt a lot from them. It’s not a team but like a family.”

Apart from being one of the most successful franchises in the IPL, CSK also boast of a huge fanbase and it has always been evident when a former Super Kings’ player enters Chepauk. Whether it was pure luck or well planned and judged buys, Chennai have always had some of the best players in the league in their team from a very young age. 

“The amount of love I have got from fans was great. It was a great team atmosphere. Many players like (Ravichandran) Ashwin, (Pawan) Negi, Jadeja came up from CSK,” Raina added.

“You have to perform to play and I’m looking forward to play for Chennai again. We all are excited to regroup.”

There has been a lot of hue and cry about the fitness regime that the current Indian team follows. Despite being one of the best middle-order batsmen in Indian cricket over the last decade or so, Raina has failed to cement his place in the team due to fitness issues. He failed the much-talked yo-yo test multiple times before clearing a couple of months ago. 

“It’s one aspect you do every day and it’s not only about gyming alone. It’s about spending time on the field. You have to have a street-smart brain,” Raina explained.

“You have to bowl at the nets for two hours everyday, you have to be on your toes. And you have to be strong in the shoulder to bat well. Gyming is one thing but you have to do a lot of strengthening as well. At the same time you have to ensure that you body regroups. It’s very much demanding. Still I would say it’s 40 per cent gym and 60 per cent skill.”

The former Indian No.4 also talked about the importance of small-town cricketers getting involved in the sport so as to increase the player pool for the country. Raina mentioned how players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Zaheer Khan have changed the mentality in their respective hometowns.

“The small town cricketers have done well in recent times. Look at (Mohammed) Shami. Bhuvi (Bhuvneswar Kumar) comes from Meerut, there’s also Praveen (Kumar), Zaheer. All these players have changed the mindset,” Raina said.

Raina also voiced his support for the Indian batsmen who have received a lot of flak for their performance in South Africa. The 31-year-old, however, was adamant that the batsman had not done as badly as had been made out recently.

“They have done well, almost won the first Test. We fought hard and bowled well. South Africa too have not been able to score runs against us. From four innings they (South Africa) are yet to score a century.

“Our batting has done well in patches. We have to support the team. We cannot dismiss them, we have some big names who have done well over the years,” he concluded.

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