Some of Suresh Raina’s best knocks have come in the Indian Premier League (IPL). As captain though, he had not been tested.
He had captained India in a stop-gap role, in Zimbabwe and West Indies, but he was never entrusted with the responsibility in the long term.
However, given the responsibility in this IPL edition, he has led the Gujarat Lions with confidence. With three wins in three games, he is the only unbeaten captain in this edition so far.
Raina has played the majority of his career under MS Dhoni. That includes eight seasons in the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings. He does captain Uttar Pradesh, which meant he was prepared for the role to an extent.
The IPL has provided him the first opportunity to lead the side for an extended period in a high-profile tournament. Ahead of the tournament, there were some concerns whether Raina will be able to successfully lead a side which has former New Zealand player Brendon McCullum, seasoned Australian opener Aaron Finch and Caribbean all-rounder Dwayne Bravo – all former captains of their national sides.
The Lions have won their three games chasing, including a win over the Dhoni-led Rising Pune Supergiants, and the 29-year-old has thus far looked sure in his decision-making.
The bowlers have done their bit to restrict the opposition to par scores while the batsmen, particularly the top-order, has clicked and left little to chance.
In the two series he led second-string India sides in, Raina returned with mixed results. In the IPL, he has made the most of the players at his disposal. Even when Ravindra Jadeja missed the game against Mumbai Indians, Raina didn’t let his absence affect the team.
On Thursday against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Raina will look to extend his winning run to four, a tally not achieved by any team so far in the tournament.
“Raina has always been a good captain. He follows his instincts. I have played under him for Uttar Pradesh and now here and know this to be true in both forms of the game,” former India pacer Praveen Kumar said.