Once CSK teammates, Dhoni and Raina set for face-off this IPL

  • Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 08, 2016 19:57 IST
Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni were integral parts of the Chennai Super Kings team. (AFP Photo)

Not even in his wildest dreams would a Chennai Super Kings fan have imagined MS Dhoni rooting for Suresh Raina’s wicket or Ravindra Jadeja plotting Captain Cool’s downfall. But it is all happening in this year’s IPL - thanks to the Supreme Court’s ban on Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for two years.

It will be interesting to see how players who rubbed shoulders with each other on the field until last year suddenly turn rivals. It will be a delight to watch players who used to share secrets to plot opponents’ downfall spill the beans to their new coaches.

Here are four interesting clashes to look out for...

1. MS Dhoni vs Suresh Raina

MS Dhoni - From CSK to Rising Pune Supergiants
Raina - From CSK to Gujarat Lions

CSK needs 90 off 50 balls. Raina stays rooted to the crease while wickets fall like a pack of cards on the other end. Dhoni walks in amid calm before the storm in the stadium. Forty-five minutes later... Yellow jerseys run towards the pitch, jumping with joy as CSK fans raise their flags with pride.

The above-described scene may have been a familiar sight to IPL followers in the last eight seasons but they won’t be able to witness this partnership again. Well, at least for another 2 years.

Because for the first time in IPL history, or probably in cricketing history, the tournament’s most experienced player and its most successful captain will have a go against each other.

MS Dhoni’s ‘crisis man’ Suresh Raina, will now be planning ways to down Captain Cool when Rising Pune Super Giants and Gujarat Lions meet on April 14.

After playing years under one of the world’s best captain, it will be interesting to see how ‘captain’ Raina’s strategies differ from his former CSK boss.

But Dhoni won’t miss Raina’s services in this IPL because an in-form Steven Smith is all set to fill the gap.

Raina also won’t miss Dhoni’s behind the stumps heroics as he has Dinesh Karthik on his side, who was India’s back-up keeper for a long time.

2. MS Dhoni vs Ravindra Jadeja

MS Dhoni - From CSK to Rising Pune Supergiants
Ravindra Jadeja - From CSK to Gujarat Lions

16th match of IPL 2013. CSK needed 29 runs off 12 balls to win against Royal Challengers Bangalore. A tough ask. Jadeja is on the crease along with Dhoni.

The 19th over is bowled by Rampaul. OUT! Dhoni swings his bat and is caught behind. When he goes off the field, he neither flinches, nor bangs his bat in frustration for he knows Rockstar is still on the field.

With 16 runs required from 6 balls, Jaddu whacks a four and a six and wins in a miraculous fashion with RP Singh bowling a no-ball in the last ball of the innings to the horror of RCB captain Virat Kohli.

That is Jadeja for you - the ‘miracle man’ who can blow life into certain death situations. Both with the bat and the ball.

Jadeja will not miss his captain this time as in Suresh Raina he has another believer in the Gujarat Lions.

But Dhoni will definitely miss Jadeja’s services in RPS as there are not many players who can do what Jadeja did for CSK and India.

3. Shane Watson vs Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane

Steven Smith and Ajinkya Rahane - RR to RPS
Shane Watson - RR to RCB

In last year’s IPL, Rahane built eight above-50 partnerships with other Rajasthan Royals players. Out of this, five involve either Watson or Smith. Such was their team-work that the eternal ‘underdogs’ of IPL always surprised their opponents with their batting power.

But after the ban, Watson was bagged by RCB while Smith and Rahane found a place in RPS. This gives rise to a unique situation.

Watson’s fellow countryman Smith will now have to share tips to down him to ‘rivals’ Dhoni and Rahane!

Watson will be doing the same with Virat Kohli!

Their sportmanship will be tested when RPS take on RCB on May 7.

4. R Ashwin vs Dwayne Bravo and Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith

R Ashwin - CSK to RPS
Dwayne Bravo and Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith - CSK to GL

Whenever Ashwin twisted his wrist and did the unimaginable - generated spin out of a new ball during the very first over - the other three would rejoice and marvel at the spin talent. They won’t do that any more as Ash will now be spinning a web against them as they parted ways after the CSK ban.

Bravo, McCullum and Smith will now be at the receiving end of Ashwin’s carrom ball whenever RPS and Gujarat Lions play against each other.

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