Suresh Kumar Raina
November 27, 1986, Muradnagar, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
Also Known As
Left hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Middle order batter
Suresh Raina represented the new-age Indian cricketer: An attacking left-hander who went for the big shots with impunity and cleared the field with a flourish when at the top of his game, he was also an electric fielder in the circle. All of this, though, was tempered with an iffy technique against the short ball, which was exploited mercilessly in Test cricket and meant Raina's Test career never reached the heights his limited-overs career did, despite starting promisingly.
Raina was prodigious at the under-19 level, his run-scoring and a string of double-hundreds taking him to the Indian junior team and beyond it, to India colours. It took Raina five years to cement his place as an India regular, moving from being a limited-overs specialist who played 98 ODIs to one who became the 12th Indian to make a Test century on debut.
Raina made his Test debut in Sri Lanka as a replacement for injured team-mate Yuvraj Singh, who, like Raina, was a left-hander, a dasher, and in the early 2000s, India's most athletic fielder. For a while it seemed Raina might have earned a long-term Test spot, but in England in 2011 his lack of skill against pace, seam and swing again opened up debates about his ability to be a consistent Test player for India.
In the shorter versions, though, there're no doubts about his talent. The ability to split the field and discover gaps where fielders could not be placed earned him high praise when he first burst through to play for India in December 2006. The early years weren't so prolific, which led to his omission from the 2007 World Cup. He forced his way back with a mountain of runs in domestic cricket, and from June 2008 was prolific in ODIs too, enhancing his stature as one of India's responsible gen-next batsmen.
Raina's tenacity at the worst of times was typical of someone who had spent his teenage years living away from home in the demanding culture of the Uttar Pradesh sports hostel, where a lack of facilities or grooming produces cricketers who must match talent with determination.
Also helping his cause were three supremely successful seasons for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and in the Champions League. He was one of the four players retained by the franchise for the 2011 season, and then again ahead of the 2014 season. When CSK were suspended for two years, Raina led Gujarat Lions.
Raina was firmly associated with Chennai Super Kings, though, and with his captain MS Dhoni; their close relationship even earned him the nickname 'Chinna Thala' (junior leader) to Dhoni's 'Thala'. Those ties went a step farther when, on August 15, 2020, Raina announced his retirement from international cricket on Instagram and referenced Dhoni - who, minutes earlier, had posted news of his international retirement on the same platform.
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