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Shirin Sadikot in Mumbai 22 March 2012 - 03:21pm IST

MSD great at hiding emotions: Raina

CSK star reveals the secret behind his and his team’s IPL success

At his best with the bat, he owns the midwicket boundary. His authoritative drives and cuts bear the uncanny attractiveness of a left-hander. While fielding inside the circle, he’s a bundle of energy and agility. According to Jonty Rhodes, he is currently the “best fielder in India”.

All these aspects of Suresh Raina’s cricket are well-documented. But talent needs other qualities to fulfil its promise, and Raina has those too. He’s a committed young man with a strong work ethic. He swears by the words of his seniors and coaches. Despite scaling the peak of stardom and riches at the young age of 25, he remains humble. There is an effortless friendliness in his demeanour even if he’s speaking to you for the very first time.

Some of these traits shone through in his chat with iplt20.com, where he spoke about CSK’s IPL success, his favourite left-handed batsmen and coaches and the lighter moments shared with his CSK teammates.

IPL Success

Being the highest run-getter in IPL is amazing. God has been very kind. We’ve done really well as a team and fortunately I’ve contributed in all four seasons. I’m really looking forward to the fifth season and playing with the new players that are coming in the team, like [Ravindra] Jadeja. Hopefully, I’ll do well this time too.

Batting at No.3, my role is very important in the side. Every time I get a start, I try to finish the game. We have [Michael] Hussey, [Murali] Vijay and myself batting at one, two and three, which forms a very formidable top order. I’m a positive player by nature and that’s how I’m expected to play.

IPL has taught me how to handle pressure and bat in difficult situations. Recently, in the CB Series, we chased down 321 under 40 overs against Sri Lanka. Virat and I put up 120 runs in nine odd overs. We could do it because of the IPL, where we’re often faced with such situations.
I always give my 100 per cent, irrespective of whether I’m wearing the blue jersey or the yellow one. As a professional cricketer, each game is a challenge for me.

Being a Super King

The secret behind CSK’s success is that we always stand by each other – in victories and defeats, joy and sorrow. We always help each other out and celebrate each other’s success, which is very important.

My funniest moment in IPL was when I almost pulled off Doug Bollinger’s hair out after he picked up an important wicket. I didn’t know he had just got a hair transplant done. He swore at me, saying, ‘If you ever touch my hair again, I’ll kill you’. I didn’t go anywhere near him the next time he got a wicket. I have downloaded that video. We still watch it and have a good laugh.

The amount of respect and money we get from the IPL is outstanding. But when we play cricket it’s all about the team. Playing and winning games together has a different high.

CSK didn’t do too well in the 2011 CLT20. We hope to get back on track with this IPL. This year is going to be a challenge for us as the other teams must have figured us out in the last four years.

MS Dhoni – leader, finisher and friend

Dhoni is a very good leader of men. He knows what to tell each player and gets the best out of him. He always believes in his players. It is that belief which won India the World Cup and took us to the No.1 Test spot.

The best thing about Dhoni’s captaincy is that he ensures the environment in the dressing room is always cheerful and positive. When that happens, you can beat any team in the world. He shares a very good equation with the players and the support staff.

People think MS is very calm under pressure. But being his friend I know that calmness is only a facade. He does a very good job of hiding his emotions. The way he conducts himself in such situations shows the toughness of his character. There’s so much one can learn from him. He doesn’t think about the past or worry about the future, just lives in the present moment.

Southpaw mentors

Luckily, my last three coaches have been left-handers – Gary Kirsten with the Indian team and Kepler Wessels and now Stephen Fleming with CSK. I’ve also benefitted a lot from having seniors like Mike Hussey and Matthew Hayden in the CSK camp.

Stephen Fleming is the friendliest, most dashing and disciplined coach I’ve ever had. He’s also one of the most wonderful human beings I’ve met in my life.

The best advice that Fleming gave me was, ‘Stay away from the cheerleaders and focus on your game’.

Sourav Ganguly is my favourite left-hander. I spoke to him at Lord’s and he told me, ‘You have the talent, the strokes and plenty of time on your hand. Keep up the good work and have fun. Have faith in your ability and enjoy the moment’.

As he prepares for yet another action-packed season in the yellow jersey, Raina has made some notes for himself. “Be honest, stay humble, add value to the team”, he says. If he persists with that, it will bode well not only for CSK but for Indian Cricket at large.

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