‘MS Dhoni made him eat his words…’: Suresh Raina recalls ex-player's ‘MSD can’t do any damage’ comment

Mar 25, 2023 07:02 PM IST

In the 2004-05 season, Raina represented the Central Zone, and first-hand got a taste of Dhoni’s prowess, who was playing for the East Zone.

MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina go back a long way. Before turning teammates for India and the Chennai Super Kings and then lifelong friends, they started off their careers as cricketing rivals. Raina was an upcoming cricketer from Uttar Pradesh while Dhoni hailed from Jharkhand. The duo first crossed paths during the East Zone vs Central Zone match. In the 2004-05 season, Raina represented the Central Zone, and first-hand got a taste of Dhoni’s prowess, who was playing for the East Zone. On a new episode of ‘My Time with Dhoni’, available exclusively on JioCinema, Raina recalled the moment he first witnessed Dhoni and his penchant for big-hitting.

File photo of MS Dhoni
File photo of MS Dhoni

It is not exactly clear which match Raina was talking about as Central Zone met East Zone twice in 2004 and 2005. The first was a group game in Deodhar Trophy in which Dhoni opened the batting and smashed a century but neither Raina nor Mohammed Kaif were a part of the Central Zone in that fixture. In all probability, he was talking about the Duleep Trophy match in 2005. Central one was led by Kaif and Dhoni featured for East Zone.

Interestingly, Dhoni had already made his international debut in Bangladesh before that match but hadn't done much with the bat. For him, that match was crucial.

Also Read | Sunil Gavaskar's startling reaction to video of MS Dhoni nearly in tears during speech on CSK's return to IPL

Raina said there was a lot of discussion around Dhoni in the Central Zone mainly due to his six-hitting abilities. Dhoni had made a name by smashing the Pakistan A and Kenya A bowlers during a tri-nation series, which also earned him his maiden India call-up.

“We were hearing a lot about a player with long hair from Jharkhand known for hitting it out of the park consistently,” recalled Raina. “This one day, we all were hanging around while Dhoni bhai quietly was eating his roti and butter chicken in a corner. Gyanu (Gyanendra Pandey) bhai saw him and said, ‘I really don’t think he’s going to do us any damage. He’s enjoying his food; let him do that’,” Raina remembered.

Raina said Kaif put an attacking field when Dhoni came out to bat the next day but they had little to do as the powerful ball-striker smashed the Central Zone bowlers to all parts of the ground. “From the word go, he hit gagan chumbhi (sky-high) sixes, and Gyanu bhai had to eat his words,” said Raina, who then witnessed MSD’s hard-hitting and finishing skills from close quarters while playing for India and CSK.

But the most memorable six that Raina recalled Dhoni hitting was in 2010 at Dharamshala in a match against Kings XI Punjab. “He clubbed a big one over long-on, and then punched his helmet. I have never seen him do this in any match or any situation. Everyone knew him as Captain Cool, but the energy he showed was because of the match situation,” Raina remembered. Dhoni led CSK in a tricky, high-scoring chase in that match that took them to the semifinals, eventually the ultimate prize too.

Giving a peek into his off-field passion, Raina reveals Dhoni’s passion for two-wheelers has been extended to four-wheelers too. “We all know how many bikes he has and how he personally fine-tunes them, but he has extended this passion for vintage cars. He has become a collector,” Raina revealed. Mr. IPL also divulged his skipper’s love for gaming. “Whenever we would ask him to go for dinner, he would inevitably play a game and delay our meals by 10-15 mins because he was intensely involved in the game,” Raina said.

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