Suresh Raina has been the star for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) right from Indian Premier League (IPL) season 1. The backbone of IPL's most successful team spoke about what it meant for him to play for the franchise again.
Raina, who is the highest run scorer in IPL with 4,985 runs, led Gujarat Lions in the last two seasons when CSK were serving their ban. "It was an honour to lead Gujarat. Similarly, playing for CSK and winning two titles before had given me special memories," Raina said. "CSK had been close to my heart and I’m glad we won another IPL title in the yellow jersey. Playing for CSK was like coming back ‘home’," the Uttar Pradesh cricketer added who never missed a single game for CSK before this edition of IPL.
Speaking about his IPL experience this year, he said, "We played just one game in Chennai as our home games were shifted to Pune. Still, we were cheered by our fans at all the venues and received such warm reception in Chennai after the win."
Raina has been playing under MS Dhoni for a long time. After playing the leadership role for Gujarat, he again played under Dhoni. "Mahi has been an extraordinary ambassador of the game. His leadership skills have been the highlight. He believes in youngsters, keeps calm in pressure situations and leads by example.
"His contribution to CSK has been immense. I think the domestic cricketers doing well for us when it mattered was the key for CSK," the southpaw added.
It was a team performance by Chennai to lift the title and Raina admits it. "Ambati Rayyudu, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur combined with the experience of Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhoni and Faf du Plessis did the trick for us," he said.
On being the highest run-getter in IPL, India's limited-overs specialist said, "It’s mind-boggling to have played eleven seasons of IPL and still having the hunger to do more. Thrice I have been part title-winning teams.
"I have learned a lot during these years. The standard of cricket has been top-class and very competitive. I have enjoyed playing in IPL and wish to score more runs in the coming editions.
"Moreover, the fans have made the experience all the more special."
(With Inputs of Hindustan Times)