Gulf News

Raina, a loyal servant of Chennai Super Kings

- BY ANIS SAJAN Anis Sajan is a cricket enthusiast and ViceChairm­an of Danube Group

When you talk of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, two players immediatel­y come to mind — one is of course their talismanic captain MS Dhoni and the other — his lieutenant Suresh Raina. The southpaw has been associated with CSK since the inception of IPL in 2008 and played till 2015, till the team was suspended for two years , and then he resumed his loyalty from 2018 till date.

He has been consistent with the bat in IPL — scoring 5,495 runs so far and is the third highest scorer in the history of IPL. He has played 201 matches and averages 450 runs per season — which is massive and commendabl­e as the world’s number one league has evolved drasticall­y since its beginning.

CSK won their first title in 2010 and Raina was instrument­al in the franchise winning their first title, scoring 520 runs. He also scored 438 the following year when the Yellove went on to win back-to-back titles. In 2018 when Chennai returned to the fold, it was called Dad’s Army and no one gave them a chance but, along with Ambati Raydu, Shane Watson, MS Dhoni, Raina was the fourth highest scorer with 445 crucial runs and was instrument­al in them winning their third title.

His innings of 87 runs of just 25 balls against Kings X1 Punjab is still rated his best knock and he could have had the fastest ton had he not been run out. He also bowls useful overs whenever his captain has demanded and has picked up 25 IPL wickets. He is also a livewire in the field and among the top three even at age 34.

A lieutenant is known as a deputy or substitute acting for a superior and Raina has filled that role for Dhoni with his heart and soul. Indeed, he has been a true servant of the CSK franchise.

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