Former India cricketer Suresh Raina shocked everyone with his announcement of retirement moments after his long time companion MS Dhoni called it quits on August 15.
Now Dhoni and Raina are gearing up for the Indian Premier League (IPL) season which is scheduled to take place in UAE from September 19 and the vice captain is looking fitter than before. Talking to popular cricket show presenter Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, the southpaw said he is so grateful to the CSK and MS Dhoni to help him grow as a player.
“I like the set up (of CSK), they are very professional as they take care of players so well,” he said.
On being asked how has the CSK embraced Dhoni and Raina so well despite the fact both of them come from different places, Raina said, “Dhoni and I have been together since our early days camps in 2003-2004. We used to have camps in Bangalore and we know each other well. I really felt he is the guy who can change the game around and the personality. He helped me, supported my family during tough times.”
Raina, who has been the first Indian to score centuries in all three formats of the game, also said that Dhoni has helped him during the toughest phase of his life. “He helped me during a tough time in 2007 when I had an operation. The one and half year made me a tougher man and Dhoni guided me during that period as well.”
The cricketer from Uttar Pradesh’s Moradnagar, Raina also said that he will always be indebted to the CSK fans for their love and support and being called Chinna Thala means a lot to him. The monikers given to him and MS Dhoni by CSK fans is something he will cherish for the rest of his life, “It’s pure love and blessing. It’s like being Jai and Viru from Sholay. They really enjoy our game and love us,” said Raina on getting adulation from Chennai fans.
“When we go down South, we have a lot of responsibility but they enjoy our cricket. It’s only because of the fans. They treat us really well, they give us a lot of freedom to express ourselves,” he added.