Dhoni an asset in T20 World Cup, says CSK teammate Suresh Raina

The strokeful southpaw, a game-changer, has not given up on his India dreams, with two T20 World Cups in successive years, 2020 and 2021.

Dhoni will be an asset to India in the T20 World Cup, says Raina.   -  k. pichumani

Belief is everything for Suresh Raina. He is the sort of character who never says never.

Recovering well from a knee surgery, Raina was here on Thursday as a guest of honour at AARUUSH’19, a National level techno-management fest, conducted by the SRM University.

Targets November

The 32-year-old Raina later said in an exclusive chat with Sportstar, “Basically my left knee was cleaned up. I expect to be back playing in November.”

The strokeful southpaw, a game-changer, has not given up on his India dreams, with two T20 World Cups in successive years, 2020 and 2021. Raina can unsettle attacks with explosive hits, cheeky shots, and can rotate the strike.

The man with 5,615 ODI and 1,605 T20I runs, said with conviction, “I can be the No. 4 for India. I have batted in that slot before and delivered. I am looking forward to an opportunity with two T20 World Cups coming up.”

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Mental game

At the same time, Raina had words of sympathy for Rishabh Pant who is going through a rough phase at No. 4. “He appears confused, is not playing his natural game. He is looking for singles, blocking, and appears lost.”

Raina added, “Someone needs to talk to him as M.S. Dhoni would do to players. Cricket is a mental game and Pant has to be backed to play his attacking brand of cricket. Right now he seems to be playing under instructions and it is not working.”

The southpaw also empathised with Ambati Rayudu who retired from cricket following the disappointment of not being picked for the World Cup and then changed his mind to return to the game.

Raina said, “I felt bad for him. He had been there and groomed for a role for two years. It can be devastating to anybody.”

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Lot more to offer

The Uttar Pradesh cricketer said Dhoni had a lot more to offer to the game. “He is still fit, still a terrific wicket-keeper and still the greatest finisher in the game. Dhoni will be an asset to India in the T20 World Cup.”

Raina felt Dhoni should have surfaced earlier in the order in that gripping World Cup semifinal against New Zealand. “Had he come earlier, he could have guided Pant and then we still had Pandya and Jadeja. Even then he kept India in the fight till the very end and we would have won but for the direct hit from Guptill.”

The smashing southpaw said, “Only Dhoni will decide when he leaves the game.”

He said “togetherness and team spirit” was Chennai Super Kings’ secret for success. “We have many match-winners but we play as a cohesive unit. And we have Dhoni.”

The wounded Raina is ready to be back in the hunt.