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Shirin Sadikot in Chennai 14 April 2013 - 03:02am IST

Raina and the lefties mutual admiration club

CSK star revels in dramatic win; draws encouragement from Brian Lara

Suresh Raina is a team man. How often have we seen him run from point to midwicket just to pat his team mate on the back for a good fielding effort? Every time an opposition wicket falls, Raina is the first to reach for the bowler’s hair (ask Doug Bollinger).

The latest demonstration of Raina’s belief, “It’s very important to enjoy each other’s success” was, when all his team-mates were busy rejuvenating after the high-octane drama, Raina ran on the field to welcome Man-of-the-Match Ravindra Jadeja from the presentation ceremony.

After a slice of luck (in form of RP Singh’s overstepping front foot) gave CSK a dramatic win, Raina described to iplt20.com how it was to watch it all happen from the dugout. The left-hander spoke about CSK’s strengthened bowling attack and the two young fast bowlers from his state, Uttar Pradesh, he has high expectations from.

In a special segment of the interview, Raina shared the special bond he shares with one of the game’s greatest batsmen, Brian Lara.

All hail Sir Jaddu

Raina credited Ravindra Jadeja’s 20-ball unbeaten 38 run-knock for the win. Not to forget his match-winning edge off the last ball.

“It was very difficult to watch this game from the dressing room. But I think we played really well; especially Jadeja, who today showed what sort of a player he is. He showed character and took responsibility. I’m very happy for what he has achieved. He has scored a lot of runs in the domestic competitions and he’s also improved as a person. He’s more determined as a batsman.”

Moment of madness

Confusion prevailed for a few seconds. Everyone thought RCB had won the game by a run, until umpire Choudhary stuck his arm out to signal a no-ball. Raina described the mood in the CSK dugout thus.

“It was chaos. When Jadeja played that last shot, we sat in the dugout and saw the RCB guys going up thinking they’d won. We thought so too. Then suddenly Choudhary signalled the no-ball and we didn’t know what was happening. It was only after a few moments that we realised that we were sitting in the winning team dugout.”

His young UP colts

Captaining Uttar Pradesh in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy, Raina was impressed by two young pacers, Ankeet Rajpoot and Imtiyaz Ahmed. This is how he got the two promising lads into the CSK camp.

“I played with them during the domestic season and these guys were putting a lot of effort on the field. I thought they deserved a crack at the IPL and so spoke to Flem (CSK coach Stephen Fleming) about them. He said he’ll definitely have a look at them and he liked what he saw. Imtiyaz and Ankeet had a major role to play in Uttar Pradesh qualifying for the Ranji Trophy knockouts without RP Singh, Bhuvan (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and PK (Praveen Kumar). They were really keen on getting some international exposure and I thought this will help them. I’m very happy that they’re here.

With compliments, from Prince

A few days ago, Raina got a surprise on Twitter, when Brian Charles Lara wrote to him, “I want to see you playing some more Test cricket and I know u have what it takes to make it big in that arena.”

“He wants me to do well in international cricket and he thinks that I can. It was the biggest compliment I’ve received. It’s my biggest dream to establish myself as a Test cricketer and if a legend like him thinks that I have it in me, it feels really special.”

The bond with the legend

Raina told us a few stories that revealed Lara’s admiration for the youngster’s talent went well beyond the Twitter praise.

“When I went to the West Indies in 2006 for the ODI series, I was very young and shy. I didn’t speak English and so wouldn’t talk much with anyone. During that time, I remember he came up to me and broke the ice. He asked me about myself, my family and made me feel relaxed. He gave me a book on his 400 not-out (record highest Test score that Lara made against England in 2004), on which I took his autograph. I have preserved it at my home till date and always will. When I went to the West Indies again, for the 2011 Test series, he threw a party for all of us for winning the World Cup.”

Pearls of wisdom

What’s the best cricketing advice that Brian Lara has given Suresh Raina?


“I had a cricketing chat with him and he told me that the most important thing while batting is your mental strength and the ability to read the bowler’ mind. He said it’s all about how you feel on that particular day the moment you put your jersey on.” 

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