Every captain has a favourite on the field and notable India’s favourite captain, MS Dhoni’s favourite was none other than Suresh Raina. An extremely talented southpaw who lost his way in the middle owing to a glaring jocular against short balls, his limited time in the Indian colours was an absolute delight to the Indian fans.
The brilliance in him amplified when he combined with Dhoni on the field in the Indian colours. This was also possible because of his previous chemistry with Captain Cool in the ranks of IPL for Chennai Super Kings. As both Dhoni and Raina hung up their international boots last night, we will celebrate their five best partnerships in the Indian colours.
- India versus Hong Kong, Asia Cup, 2008
It was a lopsided encounter as the Indians thrashed Hong Kong in the most emphatic fashion, thanks to a colossal partnership between Raina and Dhoni. India was teetering at 159 for 3 as they lost Rohit Sharma at an extremely crucial stage of the game.
Raina walked out in the middle and carried on with the battle against the minnows. Though Dhoni’s approach was more balanced, Raina went for the aggression. The two posted a mammoth partnership of 166 runs for the fourth wicket before Haider finally managed to get rid of Raina for 101. He registered his century within a paltry 68 deliveries that saw India flying off to 374. Dhoni stayed unbeaten on 109 from 96 deliveries.
The Indian bowlers made quick of their fellow Hong Kong counterparts as they were bundled out for a modest 118, thanks to some stellar bowling from Piyush Chawla.
- India versus England, 2014
At Cardiff, India was cornered by the English bowlers as Tredwell and Woakes removed the cream of Indian batting and they were stammering at 132 for 4. Raina and Dhoni took turns in stabilizing the innings and helped India to overcome the initial shock and then unleash a full-blown assault on the English bowlers.
Raina led the charge as he scripted another blitzkrieg century scoring 100 from 75 deliveries, that saw him smashing 12 fours and 3 sixes. Dhoni provided him with the perfect support as the Indian skipper scored a steady 52 from 51 deliveries, smashing 6 boundaries in the process. The duo stitched a 144 runs stand for the fifth wicket as India posted 304 on the board.
England was outplayed completely as Ravindra Jadeja razed the English batting order like skittles with significant contributions from the fielders.
- India versus England, 2011
As the Mecca of cricket stayed witness to one of the finest examples of a team game, it was a typical story of India’s rise from the ashes. The English bowlers rattled the deck hard enough for the Indians to be reduced to 123 for 4 with Kohli, Patel, Rahane and Gambhir gone.
The onus fell on Raina and Dhoni to make amends and the duo once again came out in flying colours, thanks to the calm heads of the two cricketers in the middle. They crafted a crucial partnership of 72 runs for the fifth wicket that saw India moving to 195. Jadeja and Dhoni took India to a fighting position from thereon. Raina got dismissed for 61 while Dhoni stayed unbeaten on 87.
The English batsmen were no match to the Indian bowling line u as Jadeja, Ashwin and Umesh Yadav skittled them out for 174.
- India versus Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015
This was probably the best partnership crafted by Dhoni and Raina, given the figures and the staggering circumstances where India was sitting too close to defeat. Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams hammered the Indian bowlers left and right as Zimbabwe posted a monumental total of 287 on the cards.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Sharma, Dhawan, Kohli and Rahane was shown the pavilion way too early and India was down to 92 for 4. This is when Dhoni and Raina took over the reins of the game and crafted a match-winning partnership that lasted for 196 runs between them as India crossed that winning line effortlessly.
Raina stayed unbeaten on 110 from 104 deliveries, smashing 9 fours and 2 sixes in the process, while Dhoni’s steady 85 that comprised 8 fours and 2 sixes helped India to record an easy victory in the group league match of the World Cup.
- India versus England, 2006
Both the batsmen were relatively new to the Indian line up and they were up against a formidable England under challenging circumstances. Chasing a modest total of 226, India’s top-half was gone for a meagre 92 runs as they were staring straight at a defeat.
Dhoni and Raina gave a glimpse to the world of their upcoming scintillating careers as the dup joined hands in propelling India to a dramatic turnaround of events.
From 92 for 5, they took India to 210 before Dhoni got dismissed for 38 from 55 deliveries. It was once again Raina who inflicted major damage scoring an unbeaten 81 from 89 balls, whacking 8 fours and 1 sixer. India crossed the finishing line riding on Raina and Irfan Pathan crafting a quick 20 runs partnership in the end.