The cricketer, in his recently released autobiography, ‘Believe’, talks about the people and moments he has cherished the most
Suresh Raina is a good example to make a case that a sportsperson’s legacy cannot be measured in mere numbers. Let’s take a look at his international runs in each format: 768 in 18 Tests, 5615 in 226 ODIs, and 1605 in 78 T20Is. Even in ODIs, his most-played format, he is just the 11th highest run-getter for India. He might not make it to the all-time great lists in Indian cricket (except fielding, maybe) but he indisputably earned a lot of love in his 13 years of playing international cricket.
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Raina is best remembered not through his numbers but through a few seemingly insignificant but character-revealing acts on the field like his valiant dive to convert a single into a two in the death overs of an innings or his joyous leaps to celebrate when a teammate picks up a wicket.
Raina is an emotional cricketer. During a practice session seven years ago, Sachin Tendulkar told him, “You have to believe in yourself, you have to believe you can do miracles.” The words from the great man meant so much to Raina that he tattooed the word ‘Believe’ on his right bicep the same day.
Believe (published by Penguin) also happens to be the title of his recently released autobiography. Through the book, Raina, with the help of sports writer Bharat Sundaresan, looks back at his life. He speaks to The Hindu on the people and moments he cherishes the most in this journey.
Mahi bhai has played a very important role in my life. I will forever be grateful that I got a chance to play with him, under his guidance. I still remember back in 2005, when I first met him for the Duleep Trophy. Though I didn’t get much of a chance to interact with him, I resonated in a lot of ways with him. He was from one of the small towns hoping to make it big in cricket, and so was I. When we started playing, we had the same bond on and off the field: We are both desi in style. He was always down to earth. He didn’t change even when he got into the limelight. For me, he will always be a legendary captain and a fantastic leader.
World Cup 2011
Memories of World Cup 2011 still feel so fresh. I missed the World Cup 2007 because of my injury so I had to make sure that I gave my best for 2011, also it was being played in our own country. I was in my best shape during that time and kept working on my fitness. Though I was not the first choice, I didn’t let it get to me. Finally I got a chance to play and contribute to the tournament. It is not a one-day effort that goes behind a tournament but a culmination of a lot of months and the team effort behind it. We were just like a family who wanted to win this trophy.
Chennai Super Kings
I was making a comeback after my injury when the IPL auctions happened in 2008. I was happy to know that I was with the Chennai Super Kings. All the more reason for my happiness was to know Mahi bhai was in the same team with other great players. I knew this would definitely strengthen our team. Mahi bhai and I bonded more in CSK since we used to explore Chennai in our own way. The people in Chennai started referring to me as ‘Chinna Thala’. I also got an opportunity to captain for CSK when Mahi bhai got injured. Yellow is something I wear with a lot of pride and is very close to my heart.
Priyanka C Raina
Priyanka and I go a long way back. Our families had known each other before either of us were born. We hadn’t been in touch since school, then in 2008, we met at Mumbai airport. She was there on work and I was playing Ranji trophy. From there our friendship rekindled. Priyanka was not a cricket fan before our marriage. But her friends insisted on watching the 2011 World Cup. She spotted me playing and realised I was a well-known sportsperson.
In 2015, I realised that she was the one for me. She was working overseas but still decided to come back to India for me. She has been an absolute pillar in my life. She has stood by me through all the highs and lows. I draw inspiration from her since she has established herself really well both in her personal and professional life. Marrying her was the best decision I made.