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 when resumed his loyalty from 2018 till date.
He has been consistent with the bat in IPL - scoring 5495 runs so far and is the third highest scorer in the history of IPL. He has played 201 matches so far and has an average of scoring 450 runs per season - which is massive and commendable as the number one league in the world has evolved drastically since its beginning.
CSK won their first title in 2010 and Raina was instrumental in the franchise winning their first title by scoring 520 runs. He also scored 438 in the following year when the Yellove went to win back-to-back titles. In 2018 when Chennai returned to the fold, it was called as 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 winning their third title.
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His innings of 87 runs of just 25 balls against Kings X1 Punjab is still rated as his best knock and could have got the fastest hundred had he not been run out. He is also very handy with ball for Dhoni and bowls useful overs whenever his captain has demanded and picked up 25 wickets in the history of IPL. He is also a livewire in the field and is among the top three even at the age of 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.
- Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is Vice Chairman of Danube Group