Throwback Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni Retirement: MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina are known to be the thickest of friends. They started their international careers at similar times and represented India for a large number of games. The two batters formed the middle-order and Yuvraj Singh for nearly a decade and were master finishers. Their bond continued into the IPL as both sides played for Chennai Super Kings every season except the two years in which Chennai was banned. The bond extended into retirement as both players announced their international retirements on the same day.
With one year gone by, let us look at some unique partnerships between MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina over the years.
India Vs Zimbabwe, 2015 World Cup, Eden Park
The 196-run partnership between Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni is their most significant partnership for the fifth wicket. While India was already through to the next round, a win was important for India to keep their nine-game win streak intact. They conceded 287 in a game where their bowlers were under pressure for the first time in the tournament, and the batting faced some obstacles early. India was four down with just 92 on the board, and the run rate went pretty high when Dhoni joined Raina.
However, the two didn’t back down as Suresh Raina took on the bowlers, with MS Dhoni holding an end for a while. As the game got closer, MS Dhoni got in on the action, and the two were feasting on Zimbabwe’s bowlers. Suresh Raina finished with 110 while MS Dhoni finished with 85 as India won the final over.
India Vs England, 2014, Cardiff
With MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina playing so much of their Cricket together, both have a unique understanding while deciding who goes after the bowlers and waits at the other end. India was on the back of a disappointing Test series, and their star batter Virat Kohli wasn’t in great form. The hopes weren’t high for the ODI series, but Suresh Raina, after being left out of the Test team, made a massive statement.
India was four down when MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina got together, and Suresh Raina took the initiative to find some quick runs. The pair added 144 runs, and Suresh Raina finished with a century while MS Dhoni made a steady but vital half-century. MS Dhoni was happy to let Raina go after the bowling throughout the partnership while he enjoyed it from the other end. The partnership helped India get to 304, and the bowlers did an excellent job of completing a dominating victory against England.
India Vs Hong Kong, 2008 Asia Cup, Karachi
The Asia Cup fixture against Hong Kong saw MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina at their explosive best. India had a good platform in this encounter, with Gambhir and Sehwag scoring fifties at the top. With 25 overs to go, MS Dhoni walked in, and the two finishers took apart the Hong Kong bowlers. Both players finished with centuries and hit eleven sixes together.
Suresh Raina’s century was the fastest by an Indian and consisted of five sixes, while MS Dhoni finished with 109 and hit six maximums. MS Dhoni batted through the innings and gave a solid finish to help India get to 374.
India Vs Australia, 2009, Nagpur
While most partnerships see Raina going on the offence with Dhoni biding his time, the game against Australia saw a reversal in roles. MS Dhoni walked into bat early and took a bouncer to the helmet while also falling when blocked by Mitchell Johnson on a quick single. India was down 1-0, but a good start from Sehwag and Gambhir raised India’s hopes in the second game.
MS Dhoni came in during the 16th over and had a partnership with Gautham Gambhir before uniting with Suresh Raina for the finishing blow. MS Dhoni was intent on taking on the bowlers throughout the innings, and the strong bottom hand came into play on numerous occasions. When Raina walked in to bat, the destruction increased as the two batters did not hold back for a bit. Their 136-run partnership came in just 94 balls, and MS Dhoni finished with 124 of 107 deliveries. The explosive finish took India to 354, and India levelled the series with ease.
India Vs England, 2011, Lords
In 2014, India struggled in the Test series and had it just as bad in the one-day series. They came into the fourth game 2-0 down, had a string of injuries, and several stars were out of form. They came to Lords with little to say and struggled early on. India was four down at the halfway stage when an out-of-form Suresh Raina was in with MS Dhoni. Suresh Raina looked edgy early on, but both players quickly got to their explosive best. They looked to bat through the innings and gave India a good score to bowl too. India finished with 280, a score that didn’t look likely early on, and Dhoni, along with Raina, managed to save India from another humiliating defeat.
However, they didn’t win the game, as England batted well and managed to draw the game, but the result gave India something to look at in a poor series.
India Vs Sri Lanka, 2005, Pune
During a chase of 261, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina put up their first significant partnership for India. They came together with India needing 82 runs in fifteen overs. The task was a stiff one back then, as T20 Cricket was still not a prominent fixture. They attacked through the innings as Dhoni finished with 45 and Raina finished with 39. Both played with a high strike rate and won the game with ease for India.
They ran well between wickets throughout the innings, and the World saw the potential of a Dhoni-Raina partnership. After a reasonable platform and a minor collapse, India managed to get through comfortably. The partnership set up a template for the future as India’s middle-order helped India believe they can chase good totals. Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, and Yuvraj Singh helped form a middle-order that eased the dependence on India’s top-order.