He was one of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's trusted lieutenants during the best days of Chennai Super Kings and not only does Suresh Raina “miss” his captain but also feels disappointed in the manner in which he was removed from Rising Pune Supergiant's captaincy.
I was disappointed. He has done so well for the country as well as for the IPL teams. He should be respected every time. It’s about not me saying, it’s the world saying.
Dhoni has so far scored only 61 runs in five games with a strike-rate of 87 and that has invited criticism from all quarters.
Having shared the dressing room with him, you know what goes through when one faces hardships. He should be respected as a player. In any profession, be it as a player or a journalist, you need to be respected. Even a player, however short his career span may be, wants to earn respect.
Raina termed his eight-year stint with CSK as the "best experience".
The time I spent with Chennai Super Kings will always remain special. We have won so many trophies, be it the IPL or the Champions League T20. When I was very young, it gave me a great learning opportunity by being among all the legends (sic).
On a different note, Raina seemed hopeful that Virat Kohli's Indian team will be able to retain the Champions Trophy won in 2013. Raina said that Kohli's aggression is his biggest plus point.
Kohli has done really well in that department (passion and intensity). I feel he will lift the Champions Trophy for India this time. He knows how to channelise his emotion into aggression.
“In order to get winning results, one needs to full support from the team and he has got that.”
Everyone supports him (Kohli) on the field. All the players like to play that way. If he starts scoring runs, I don’t think anyone can stop him from winning the Champions Trophy. He has done well in Test and one-day cricket. Now it’s time to go to England and do what MS did in ODIs (in 2013).
Raina has picked Kerala pacer Basil Thampi and Jharkhand batsman Ishan Kishan as two special talents who would go on to play for India.
He (Thampi) knows what he has to do on the match day as well as in practice. He has done really well in first-class cricket. He may get a look-in into the Indian team. Ishan Kishan is also a very bright prospect for the Indian team. Both have done well so far. No 7 is such a crucial position, where you have pressure to finish a game. I think he has it in him. He comes from the same place as Dhoni bhai. He has played with him. I’ve seen him for last two years. He has got a good attitude. I want him to play for India.
With Lions failing to replicate last year's performance where they finished table-toppers, Raina said, “This time, we made some mistakes and we are not able to get our combination right. Bravo has been out; Jadeja could not play first two matches. It's a matter of posting one big win.”
(This article has been edited for length.)