Hurts when people equate our connection with a spot for me in Indian team: Raina throws light on his bond with Dhoni
- Suresh Raina admitted it wasn't a pleasant experience knowing that people linked his place in the team to his friendship with MS Dhoni.
Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni were great teammates but even better friends. From playing together for India to representing Chennai Super Kings to announcing their retirements on the same day, Raina and Dhoni share a great bond. The camaraderie shared between Raina and Dhoni is one that is rarely seen between two top-level cricketers and theirs is a pair that is immortal when it comes to India cricket's fabled duos.
In his recently released autobiography, 'Believe', authored by veteran sports journalist Bharat Sundaresan, Raina revealed how Dhoni played a part in brining the best out of the left-handed batsman, but admitted that it wasn't a pleasant experience knowing that there were people who always linked Raina's place in the team to his friendship with the former India captain.
"Dhoni knew how to get the best performance out of me, and I trusted him. When people equate our connection with a spot for me in the Indian team, it hurts a lot. I've always worked hard to win my spot in Team India, just as I've earned Dhoni's faith and respect," Raina wrote.
Between the two, Dhoni would go on to make his India debut first. The former India captain played his first match for India in December 23, 2004 – during an ODI against Bangladesh, where he was run out for a duck. Seven months later, Raina would be welcomed into the Indian team. July 30, 2005 is when Raina would make his debut for India in an ODI against Sri Lanka in Dambulla.
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Over the next few years, Dhoni and Raina would go on to become the linchpin of India's middle order, especially in ODIs, along with the prolific Yuvraj Singh. Unfortunately, Raina injured his knee, and required a surgery in 2006, which kept him out of action for six months. He was still recovering by the time the 2007 T20 World Cup came rolling and had to miss on the event that would prove to be a defining moment for Indian cricket.
However, Raina would light up the next edition of the T20 World Cup in 2009, becoming India's first-ever T20I centurion. He was also the first India batsman to score a century in all three formats for India. The Dhoni-Raina camaraderie continued for years as India won the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy, with Dhoni being at the helm and Raina being his go-to man. Fittingly, Raina and Dhoni announced their retirement on the same day, August 15, 2020.