The world of cricket seems to have come to a standstill with former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's announcement of retirement from all forms of international cricket. What has come as a double blow for cricket lovers is the immediate announcement by Suresh Raina of joining MSD in this journey. Not only have the two been the Thala and Chinna Thala of CSK but also share a great camaraderie. The sudden announcement of the two maverick players leads us to just one question – is there more to it than meets the eye?
What connects the two?
The less recognized cricket boards: Both Dhoni and Raina have come from the less recognized cricket boards of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. It goes without saying that the two have had a tremendously challenging journey before they got to be a part of the Indian cricket team. The duo valued and respected each other's journey and the struggles they have had to endure to even get the exposure they were deemed to get.
Team players first: With both MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina, success and achievements of the team came much before their own milestones. With Dhoni being behind-the-stumps and constantly guiding the ballers and Raina being one of the most animated players even when someone else from the team would take a wicket; the two have always displayed the highest levels of selflessness on the pitch.
Similar trajectory: When the two started playing for the Indian cricket team, India was more of a top-order dependent team with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir on the top. With these two players in the middle order, the Indian team became much more stable and balanced as far as the batting order was concerned. The two young and dynamic players bailed India out of difficult waters on various occasions by winning unexpected matches, taking crucial wickets and striking unbelievable runs. Together, the two were a force to be reckoned with.
The face of CSK: They have been the linchpin of the Chennai Super Kings batting since the inception of IPL. It's not a wonder that when CSK was banned from playing and the players were divided, both Raina and Dhoni showed immense integrity and strength in captaining other teams. While Suresh Raina went on to lead Gujarat Lions, Dhoni led Pune Warriors.
There is no denying the fact that right from the initial days of his career, Suresh Raina and Dhoni have been thickest buddies in the team. Even at those times when Raina had a lean patch, it was Dhoni and his belief in him that pulled Raina together. The fact that Dhoni has played a major role in honing Raina's talent and sticking by him even when everything went south for the southpaw, is not hidden from anyone. And it wouldn't be unfair to say that with Dhoni's retirement, Suresh Raina's position in the team would have looked more bleak considering the strong middle order that India already has today.