Raina eager to turn a Super King again

Raina made it clear that he would like to don the yellow jersey in the coming season. “I would love to. I played each and every game here, and have so many memories here. They all kept coming back,” the 30-year-old batsman said.

Suresh Raina during a practice session at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.   -  K. Pichumani

As a red Mercedes arrived at the practice arena at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday afternoon, a bunch of youngsters from Tamil Nadu were busy taking part in trials at one end of the practice arena. The youngsters, with dreamy eyes, were out to prove their mettle for the Tamil Nadu U-19 side, and for that the selections trials were the best options.

Suresh Raina silently walked into the arena along with Praveen Kumar to pad up. A few minutes later, he got chatty with a few groundsmen, all familiar faces for the batsman. After all, Chennai is nothing less than a second home for the Uttar Pradesh cricketer.

This is where he spent some of his best moments on the field, playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL). And perhaps, that’s why it brought back memories as he trained hard ahead of his state side’s opening game at the Buchi Babu All-India Invitation tournament.

“They say, you may buy things with money but you can’t buy memories,” the India batsman said.

After a two-year suspension, the Chennai-based franchise is set to return to the IPL bandwagon this time around, and Raina made it clear that he would like to don the yellow jersey in the coming season. “I would love to. I played each and every game here, and have so many memories here. They all kept coming back,” the 30-year-old batsman said.

After reaching Chennai on Thursday evening, Raina took to Twitter to express his happiness to be in the city. “Here I am, back to my very own #Chennai. Looking forward to play the Buchi Babu series on the grounds full of memories and joyful moments,” he wrote on the social media site.

The Uttar Pradesh cricketer hasn’t been in the Indian side since February, and he has left no stones unturned to make a comeback. But then, he claimed that his objective is to rather earn it. “I am enjoying the process. When you get success, you need to use the stairs and not the elevator,” he said.

Despite being out of the national side for a while now, Raina is not disappointed. “The word disappointed would make you more disappointed. Challenge will give me more satisfaction,” is how he loved to see it.

While he has been one of the biggest game-changers for India in the shorter format of the game, playing short ball has been an area of concern for him. “If I was really weak against the short-pitched stuff, I would have been targeted in the ODIs too. Then, how did I play over 200 ODIs in different parts of the world?” he questioned.

During the off-season, Raina went to The Netherlands to be with his family. But even there, he put himself through a tough fitness regime. That’s something that has helped him ahead of the season, and if all goes well, the India cricketer may well be seen playing for an English county next season. “There is no point going now. I have been speaking to a few people about it, and may be, something might crop up next year,” he said.

As he eyes a comeback, Raina believes that his former captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, still has enough left in him. “When he is doing so well, why do you have to think about the negatives?” he questioned. “He has been batting really well. He has been solid with that, and has maintained his calmness. Around Virat, he can give his expertise, and Virat can dominate any team.”

Raina will play two rounds of the Buchi Babu tournament before heading to Kanpur for Duleep Trophy, but his sights will firmly be set on the 2019 World Cup.