MS Dhoni has missed two matches this IPL season – against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians – with Suresh Raina stepping up as the stand-in skipper for Chennai Super Kings. When the time comes for Dhoni to step away from CSK and IPL for good, Raina hinted he would be glad to take up the responsibility.
“He has done well in the last couple of years as a batsmen as well team mentor. So probably you may see me more next year when he is done but I need more of his calibre. But he will continue as long as he wants to play for Chennai, you know him and Chennai,” he said after the 80-run win over Delhi Capitals.
Raina believes CSK miss Dhoni the batsman more than they miss Dhoni the captain – especially with multiple veterans and leaders in the squad. “I think losing him as a captain is not an issue, losing him as a batsman is always difficult for us. That’s what happened for us against Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians,” added Raina.
Dhoni displayed his batting skills upon return to the playing XI. He scored 44 runs from 22 balls to steer Chennai Super Kings to a mammoth 179/4 despite a slow and cautious start.
“When he comes to the crease a lot of pressure is created for other teams. When he is not in the team, we see the difference.”
The left-hander also praised Dhoni’s glovework in light of two brilliant stumpings and a caught behind. “He (Dhoni) had two brilliant stumpings. One is Shreyas (Iyer) and the other is (Chris) Morris. It shows how compact he is. In the last couple of years when he was playing for India also, he has done amazing stumpings that shows how involved he is in the game,” Raina said.
With CSK’s Chennai leg of fixtures over, they saw off the home matches with aplomb. Raina said it was important to play smart cricket in Chennai. “It is important to play very, very smart cricket in Chennai. The game starts after the sixth over here. In the powerplay, if you see the last two games which we won against Hyderabad and against Delhi here, you can see that we hadn’t done well in the first three overs,” he said.
“Watto (Shane Watson) and Faf (du Plessis) played very carefully against (Trent) Boult and (Chris) Morris. It is important to have wickets in Chennai because later when you have hitters like MS (Dhoni), (Ambati) Rayudu and Jadeja, you can score extra 30-40 runs.”
Raina achieved a milestone on Wednesday night as he became the first fielder to take 100 catches in the IPL. He felt it was a blessing for the team to lose the toss as the wicket was a bit difficult in the second innings when Delhi chased.
“I think it was a blessing for us to lose the toss. The wicket was a bit difficult when they (Delhi) were batting second. The game really set up for us. We kept wickets in hands. In Chennai we need to put extra 30-40 runs on the board. that’s what we did.”
Raina said Delhi couldn’t capitalise on a good start, adding one needs to plan well against CSK’s lethal spin attack. “They (Delhi) were very good in the powerplay, but later on they didn’t capitalise on their good start. In Chennai, you need to plan really well against our good spinners. You need to rotate really well, otherwise it is going to be difficult with the heat,” he said.