MS Dhoni‘s most endearing quality as a leader was the number of times he pulled a rabbit out his hat, especially in crunch situations. Suresh Raina has seen it all from close quarters while playing alongside MSD for both India and Chennai Super Kings but even if he was surprised when Dhoni asked him to pad up when Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were batting with breathtaking ease during the 2015 World Cup encounter against arch-rivals Pakistan.
Ajinkya Rahane was India’s designated No.4 during the 2015 World Cup but MS Dhoni, sensing the fact that the left-hander Raina could be more useful at the No.4 spot against leg-spinner Yasir Shah, took the southpaw, who was chilling with a sandwich at the time, by surprise when he asked him to pad up.
“I never questioned his decisions. I remember I was having a sandwich or something during our match against Pakistan in World Cup 2015. Suddenly after 20 overs, he said ‘pad-up’. I padded up. Virat was batting really well and this happened just a few overs before Shikhar (Dhawan) got run out. So I got out in the middle, played a few shots, and scored 70-80 runs,” said Suresh Raina in a YouTube interview.
MS Dhoni was always one step ahead of the game: Suresh Raina
And, the move paid evidence. Raina walked out to bat both India’s score reading 3-162 in 29.5 overs. And, by the time the southpaw was dismissed, he had already smashed a whirlwind 56-ball 74- an innings which included five fours and three sixes.
Raina revealed that he asked Dhoni about his sudden change in plan after the match.
“After the match I asked him why did you send me up the order? He said, ‘I thought you will play better against the leg-spinner who was bowling at that time’. He also praised me for my batting. So I also want to know what goes on in his mind,” Raina added.
Praising MS Dhoni further Raina said Dhoni always used to stay a step ahead of the game.
“He was always a step ahead. He used to stand behind the stumps for the entire match, assess the pitch, whether it has turn and swing… He was seldom wrong, I can say he was god gifted.
Raina heaped high praise on Dhoni, saying that the former Indian captain always stayed one step ahead of the ahead while also revealing that MSD had told him he can come up to him for suggestions anytime when Raina was leading the Gujarat Lions outfit,
“Later when I became the captain of Gujarat Lions in IPL, he told me ‘you can come up to me anytime for suggestions,” said Raina.
Coming back to that Indo-Pak game, the Men in Blue went on to win the encounter by 76 runs, extending Pakistan’s winless streak in World Cups against them to 0-6.