Suresh Raina is one cricketer who every franchise would love to have in its ranks. A true match winner, who has not only helped Chennai Super Kings win the Indian Premier League twice but also helped Team India win on several occasions in shorter formats.
Last season, Raina scored 441 runs at an average of a shade below 26 in 18 innings. The piece of statistic may not sound great, but the fact is, he finished several matches. This time too, Raina is one of Chennai Super Kings’ batting mainstays. Though he hasn’t done anything of note as yet in IPL-VI, Raina’s cameos will prove crucial for MS Dhoni & Co during the latter stages of the tournament. Raina spoke to MiD DAY at the Tag Heuer Aquaracer event yesterday.
Can you describe the feeling in the camp after the dramatic last-ball win over the RCB on Saturday?
It was a wonderful win for us. It is always good to get over the line in such close matches. The morale of the team is very high and everybody is enjoying the game. The players have been very supportive and we are enjoying each other’s success.
Did you think that Chennai would win anyway — without RP Singh’s no ball?
We have won the IPL twice so we always back ourselves to do well and chase down huge totals. We have a formidable batting line-up and the partnership between MS and Ravindra Jadeja was simply amazing. Till the time MS was there, I was very sure he would pull this off for us, but I think Jadeja played really well. He has proved that he is a match-winner and a true performer with the bat.
How difficult was it to bounce back after the loss to Mumbai in Chennai’s opening match?
We would have loved to start the tournament with a win, but unfortunately that did not happen. It was a close game but there is a long way to go in this competition. It is just the opening phase of the tournament and we are looking forward to learning from our mistakes and continue our winning ways.
You will back Chennai to win the title obviously, but which team seems most impressive to you?
I think all teams are doing very well. One team that I feel is on a roll is the Mumbai Indians. They have a new captain in Ricky Ponting. Also their batting unit is clicking with Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma scoring heavily. They really seem to be the team to watch out for.
Chennai appear very cool when faced with big targets. Is it because of the kind of confidence you guys have or would you put it down to thorough mental training?
We always back ourselves to perform well. We have lot of depth in our batting and experienced players around. Chasing huge totals is all about handling pressure and with MS as captain, there is always a sense of calmness in the dugout. He gives everybody a lot of freedom and confidence which helps the team.
Tell us about Stephen Fleming’s contribution as coach...
He has been a part of this CSK set-up since the start of the tournament. He has played international cricket and has a lot of experience, we consider him as a part of our playing XI in terms of match planning and strategies. He along with MS bring a lot of calmness in the dressing room. He is a great mentor and a very good person to have around in the team.