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IPL 2018: I became a real cricketer in Chennai Super Kings, says Suresh Raina

India all-rounder Suresh Raina, who is Indian Premier League’s top-scorer, today said that while it may seem that he has contributed to the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team, the reality is the exact opposite. The 31-year-old said that it was CSK, which had taught Raina how to be a real cricketer.

Suresh Raina, the Uttar Pradesh captain in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali domestic T20 tournament, slammed a combative 126 not-out against Bengal on Monday (22 January). He is an IPL legend and specially a CSK fan-favorite, with highest runs (4540) in the cash-rich tournament, at an outstanding strike-rate of 139.09.

Suresh Raina became a real player in Chennai

On the sidelines of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Raina spoke about the CSK franchise and the chemistry that the players – who were retained by the franchise in IPL 2018 PLayer Retention; MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, and Suresh Raina himself – shared. As reported by the Times of India, Raina said,

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

“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.”


READ: Mike Procter reveals Sachin Tendulkar’s role in ‘Monkeygate’ controversy.


Not a team, CSK is family for Suresh Raina

Raina had played with Gujarat Lions for the past two seasons, when CSK was banned for a spot-fixing case for two years. The left-handed all-rounder said that he couldn’t wait to put on the CSK jersey again, in the upcoming 11th season of the IPL (Indian Premier League 2018). He said,

“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.

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

Fitness issues and getting back into form

Raina’s fitness was one of the main factors that had kept him out of the Indian cricket team’s line-up in the past one year. He has remained absent from India’s ODI squad for over two years, and last featured in a T20I clash against England in January of 2017.

However, keeping the fight on, the Uttar Pradesh cricketer recently cleared the mandatory Yo-Yo fitness test. Commenting on the feat, Raina said that he has been working hard on his skills and physical strengthening. He elaborated,

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

“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 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 percent skill.”

Playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament

Asked about the importance of playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, Suresh Raina said,

“I play each and every tournament with the same intent. The tournament has many big names and before the IPL and upcoming Asia Cup it’s a nice opportunity.”

“There are a lot of exciting youngsters like Rinku Singh, there’s also Kuldeep (Yadav) who will play a couple of matches before heading to South Africa. It’s a chance to see many youngsters.”

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