Dubai: It was a different Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the phase Chennai Super Kings were preparing for the IPL 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic came in the way, according to his longtime teammate and vice-captain Suresh Raina.
“This time, he was just not getting tired of batting. He was doing his gym in the morning, followed by batting for three hours in the evening,” Raina said about the much decorated former India captain, whose chances of making a comeback to international cricket took a bodyblow when the IPL was postponed indefinitely.
Speaking on Star Sports, Raina gave an insight to Dhoni’s preparations: “The first few days he took it lightly and just focused on going to the gym but he was playing the shots beautifully and his fitness level was great and he was not getting tired.”
“His preparations were different this time, I have played with him over the years with the national side and IPL getting ready but it was different this time, so I just hope the matches can start quickly then everyone can see how well prepared he is and see what I saw myself live in the two months of camp that we had,” he added.
“When someone works hard, then the prayers and blessings find their way to them,” said Raina.
“The best thing was, (Ambati) Rayudu, myself, Mahi bhai and Murali (Vijay) were batting in a group and Mahi bhai bats for long hours when he is in Chennai for about two to four hours. But this time, he was just not getting tired of batting,’’ said the southpaw, who is the second highest scorer in the history of IPL.
A veteran of 18 Tests, 226 ODIs and 78 T20Is, Raina further spoke about what makes batting with Dhoni special.
“For whatever time we have played, my USP has been that MS Dhoni has given me the license to bat freely and he always knew my capability,” Raina said.
“Whatever strengths I have in my game and whenever things were going great for me, if I needed to tweak something, he would also slowly give me a warning and tell me what the results could be if there is a change in the strategy and then he would leave the final call to me.
“He would not try to change anything but he would let you know the outcome/ result and how the situation of the team will be. So, he is also covering my batting and he is also telling me where the team can be. This allows me to make a compact decision,” he added.