Aakash Chopra: Suresh Raina deserved better

Former India international and current cricket pundit Aakash Chopra believes that Suresh Raina did not enjoy the career his ability deserved.

In a week that saw the retirement from all forms of cricket of MS Dhoni, it went largely unnoticed that the 33-year-old Raina called time on his career as well.

“This was actually a bolt from the blue. And there are 2-3 reasons for that. Firstly, Raina is only 33 years old, so he is fairly young,” Chopra said in a video on his YouTube channel.

“Second thing is that we had done an interview with Suresh Raina recently in which he regularly said that he was looking forward to play for India again. He said that he was doing his best and would be scoring a lot of runs. He said that after his knee surgery, he was feeling stronger and hitting the ball well.

“I was very happy because Raina is a special player and there were two T20 World Cups coming in two years, so why not Raina. Thirty-three is no age for a guy as fit as Suresh Raina.”

Chopra said that he had been looking forward to seeing what Raina would do for the Chennai Super Kings in the upcoming IPL. Raina has been a stalwart for the franchise and is arguably just as famous for donning their yellow jersey as the blue of India.

“And then he was posting videos on Instagram etc where he was regularly practicing and putting lot of effort. When you see someone putting so much effort, you feel that it is going to happen. In fact, the only thing I was looking forward to was him playing for CSK and scoring a lot of runs and forcing the selectors to pick him,” Chopra further explained.

Chopra waxed lyrical on the achievements of Raina, whom he believes is one of India’s all-time great left-handers and a legendary slip-catcher.

“He was the first Indian cricketer to score a century in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. After that KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma also did that, Virat Kohli has still not done it, T20 century is still pending. He scored a century on Test debut against Sri Lanka. After that his Test career was up and down but he did not get that many chances,” Chopra said.

“If you see the left-handers that India has produced to date, Suresh Raina’s name would be right up there. He was one of the finest left-handed batsmen that the country has produced, one of the best white-ball cricketers that the world has ever seen. If you include his IPL figures as well, then you will say a runaway match-winner and absolutely a champion player.

“There would be very few fielders you would get of his standard. He would be among the top 5, an all-round fielder. Because there are a lot of fielders who don’t catch well in the slips but are good in the outfield like Jaddu. Ravindra Jadeja is a gun fielder but it is slightly difficult in the slips. Even Jonty Rhodes couldn’t catch well in the slips. Suresh was one of the best fielders the world has ever seen.”

Raina played 18 Test matches and 78 T20Is to go along with an incredible 226 ODIs.