Pathan to M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina: Thanks for the memories, boys!

Irfan Pathan remembers the 210-run stand with M.S. Dhoni in the Faisalabad Test against Pakistan and the butter chicken meals on tours.

From left: M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan share a light moment at a training session in 2006.   -  FILE PHOTO/K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

 

When two of your closest friends retire from international cricket on the same day, it is not easy to describe the feeling in words. So, for me, the August 15 evening has been quite emotional — it has rekindled so many memories.

M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina and I go back a long way. While I have known Raina since the U-19 days, I have played some of the best matches of life with Dhoni.

In fact, every time we would play together, we had a close group — of which Dhoni and Raina were part of. We would hang out together, share our meals and it was mandatory that we would visit a restaurant and order butter chicken.

Mahi loved butter chicken so much that every time he would go out for a meal, that would be the first order. And on away tours, our favourite would be fried chicken at KFC or at Nando’s.

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There would be times when we would gather in our hotel room and chat for hours, and not just about cricket. There would be discussions on everything under the sun and Sureshy My Boy — as I would fondly call Raina — would give his two cents. Those were fun times and possibly the best moments of our career.

In the team bus, the last seat was kept for Dhoni, while I would sit in the second last seat. So, even before a match, there would be banters and conversations. But on the field, he was serious and it was his positiveness that motivated the entire team.

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As I look back, it brings back memories of the long partnership Dhoni and I had in Pakistan in 2006. We were struggling in the Faisalabad Test and it was our 210-run stand that bailed out the team. Dhoni hammered a ton against Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq and it was an incredible innings. It was definitely one of the best memories I had with him.

From left: Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, M.S. Dhoni and R.P. Singh.   -  FILE PHOTO/K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

 

In 2012, Dhoni and I went out for a walk in the streets of Hambantota in Sri Lanka. We went for shopping and in the entire duration, we just spoke about the days bygone and our memories.

These are the moments I will always cherish.

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Raina and Dhoni have always had a great bond and the fact that they played for Chennai Super Kings together, it brought them closer. When you spend more time together, you end up becoming more close to each other and that’s what has happened. They have paired together to deliver success for CSK which has been phenomenal.

For the last one year, there have been discussions on whether Dhoni should have retired after the World Cup. But I think, retirement is a very personal issue and it should only be left to the individual to decide. And now that two of my close friends have walked into retirement, I can only wish them luck for all the future endeavours.

It was lovely sharing so many moments with the two of you. Thanks for the memories, boys!

As told to Shayan Acharya