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I have a responsibility, I have to perform for my players: Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina Gujarat Lions
 Gujarat Lions skipper Suresh Raina. (Photo Source: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

Suresh Raina is experiencing many ‘firsts’ this season. He wore the skipper hat for the first time in the Indian Premier League team. He recently became the first Indian player to complete 6000 runs in T20 cricket and is also set to become a time father soon. Raina, no doubt, is an IPL legend. He has been a master with the bat for Chennai Super Kings all these years and is now leading his new team, IPL debutants, Gujarat Lions (GL) with flair. Raina is experiencing a whole new phase of life. In a recent interview with TOI, the GL skipper sat down and talked about his current experiences.

His team Gujarat Lions has been performing really well. After their narrow win over Delhi Daredevils last night, they currently sit at the top of the Points table under his leadership. When asked to assess his own performance as captain, Raina said, that it is easy to lead the team as he already played with most of them before.

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“I have got this responsibility. I have to perform for my players. I have played with most of my players at Chennai Super Kings. We have 5-6 players who have performed well in IPL. Brad Hodge, Dwayne Bravo… these players are aware of my nature. They have played so much in India. It helps to have a set combination if the players respond to the captain. I have never missed even an optional practice session so I can give my players more time.”

“For whichever team I have played so far, I told myself that I am the captain on the field. That approach helped me.”

T20 cricket has changed the whole perception of cricket in the minds of general fans as well as budding cricketers. But, Raina thinks that the choice depends more on the particular individual that the trend.

“I can’t ask my friend or son or anyone’s son to play a particular format. If you want to eat at a particular restaurant then you will eat over there only. I can’t say don’t eat here or there. It depends on a person’s choice.”

He also feels that Test cricket is still the best format in spite of the entertainment factor of T20.

“Test cricket is obviously important. We have our first-class and Test season later on in the year. To do well there, I will also be trying for a county stint after my wife’s delivery. Cricket is also about entertainment but I have always believed in Test cricket.”

There is a lot to learn for upcoming cricketers in the IPL where they get to interacts with international stars and the A-listers.

“IPL helps a lot. It teaches a lot…way of living, way of training, how to look after your body, what to eat, when to sleep. It even teaches man-management skills. You can even learn that from people like Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta… how they go about their glamorous life, how they act with their fans.”

The soon-to-be father also spoke about the importance of having family and friends around.

“It is always important to surround yourself with your family and friends. Cricket mein aaj hain, kal nahin honge (We are playing today, might not play tomorrow).Your wife, your kid, your parents will always be with you. It is important to have a solid bonding with them. You need to feel loved. Today you could be performing, tomorrow you could fail miserably. It’s only your family that will be with you. For them, you are the same person. They won’t judge you.

Speaking about the new phase of life he said, ”It’s a new life and experience for me and I am enjoying it. Priyanka has been very supportive.”

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