IPL 2020 | ‘MS Dhoni is all pumped up, you’ll see his helicopter shots in UAE’: Suresh Raina
Ahead of IPL 2020 in UAE, CSK batsman Suresh Raina talks about his captain and friend MS Dhoni’s return to cricket after a long gap.Updated: Aug 06, 2020 06:54 IST
After spending almost five months in lockdown, the IPL will be the first opportunity for Suresh Raina---like the rest of Indian cricket playing fraternity---to get his competitive juices flowing again. The Chennai Super Kings veteran has been keeping himself in shape doing fitness drills as well as some skill training at India seamer Mohammed Shami’s farmhouse field in Amroha. “I tell him to eat and then bowl. You have to be friendly with fast bowlers who are a terror,” he jokes. In an interview, on the eve of being appointed brand ambassador for fantasy gaming platform WTF Sports, Raina talks about the upcoming IPL and his friend and captain MS Dhoni’s return.
Q. The IPL is finally happening. How does it feel to return to competitive cricket?
Raina: It’s good to be back for IPL. We are all excited for this season. We have been working really hard for this edition and I am sure everyone will enjoy the action.
Q. Is there a bit of worry among players before returning to the field in the middle of this pandemic?
Raina: Definitely. In this pandemic a lot of things have happened. 2020 has been one of the worst years, but at the same time I would say that as Indians we have really fought back; the way we have encouraged our frontline doctors and staff. We have really pushed the bar and when you have tough days, we need to come out of our comfort zone and work really hard. What’s done is done and we are in a good spirits. Let’s play cricket now. This sport has the potential to bring back smiles on people’s face with families, friends and fans coming together.
Q. Will you be travelling for IPL with the family, like you usually do?
Raina: That is for the BCCI to decide as a lot of guidelines have changed with the health advisories for the players and staff. This IPL will be very challenging for players as we need to maintain proper social distancing. Only once we reach there will we know of proper protocols. At this stage, let’s just hope for the best.
Q. All the teams were picked in the auction based on home advantage. Will CSK’s spinners be equally effective in the UAE?
Raina: I think experience will matter. In the UAE there are a lot of big grounds and we also have a lot of quality players who have played lot of leagues around the world like Shane Watson, DJ Bravo. With MS Dhoni at the helm, we have a lot of experience to tackle all that. As a batsman I can assure you that we will just go out on the field and express ourselves. We have played in those conditions before and once we have a camp there, we will know how it works.
Q. How will it feel like playing in front of empty stands?
Raina: That would be a challenge and I was reading somewhere that we might have 30-40% crowds. But even then, it would be difficult. We will be missing our Chennai crowd. But this year we have an extra responsibility. Since all the fans will be watching the game on TV, we need to make sure the best cricket is played and we need to go out there and play strong for CSK.
Q. MS Dhoni will be returning to action after a year. Your thoughts?
Raina: I was there with him and he was practising really hard (before the pandemic). Hopefully, you will see his helicopter shot soon. He’s been a great brand ambassador for IPL and such a great cricketer. You will see him in his best fighting spirit. He’s all pumped up and looking forward to going to UAE and entertain all his fans.
Q. Who do you think are the contenders to win the IPL this year?
Raina: I think since we are playing after 4-5 months, all teams will be good. This would be a battle between teams…on who is tougher mentally. How they respond after being locked inside due to pandemic. I think every team is solid. This IPL will be a battle of minds and it will be very exciting.