'Suresh Raina showed how even a youngster can lead a team and succeed,' recalls Siddharth Trivedi
- At just 19 years of age, Suresh Raina led a star-studded Air India to the inaugural Bradman Twenty20 Cup title in 2005.
- Suresh Raina captained big names such as Dinesh Karthik, Siddharth Trivedi and RP Singh among others in the team.
Back in 2005, Indian cricket went through a massive facelift with the introduction of the Bradman Twenty20 Cup, a tournament organised by the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA).
The six-team tournament featured a unique mix of domestic cricketers and foreign stars facing off in the first-of-a-kind competition, and all eyes were on how the cricketers would adapt to the fast-paced nature of the T20 format.
Among the high profile stars in action, a young 19-year-old Suresh Raina was gearing up to lead the Air India team decked with an array of big names like Dinesh Karthik, Siddharth Trivedi, RP Singh among others.
"We were monitoring Raina since his U-19 days and he was with us even in the NCA. Even back then, just like how he was an exceptional batsman, a great fielder and brought out a lot of positivity and that's why the challenge was thrown at him. He did a fantastic job. A lot of things depend on how a character is, he was positive about whatever he did," Suresh Raina's Air India teammate Trivedi recalled in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
Under Suresh Raina's stewardship, Air India won both their group stages matches and booked a summit clash against the hosts, Karnataka State Cricket Association XI.
In the final, the then 19-year-old stitched a crucial partnership with Naman Ojha, a 95-run stand that helped Air India scale the 118-run target in 16 overs.
"Suresh Raina is very calm and down to earth"
While Trivedi spoke highly of Suresh Raina's skill with the bat, the former pacer claims that he was extremely impressed with the way the southpaw dealt with the seniors in the side.
"He's (Suresh Raina) very calm and very down to earth. When you have a team full of stars, you need someone who gels everyone and makes every player comfortable. In a corporate level there a variety of players. He showed the character that even a youngster can lead a side and give good results," Trivedi added.
One of the most impressive pacers for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, Trivedi played six seasons of the competition for RR and picked 65 wickets from 76 matches. Trivedi's best season came in 2012, when he picked 13 wickets in 14 matches and finished as RR's highest wicket-taker in that season.
However, Trivedi claims that his journey in the T20 format began with the Bradman Twenty20 Cup where he played for Air India and was one of the team's premier pacers alongside RP Singh.
And, while Trivedi's contributions helped Air India win the inaugural edition of the tournament, the former pacer claims that Suresh Raina's approach towards youngsters in commendable.
"The best thing about Raina is that even when he played for India, whenever he was free he would come and play for Air India. Not everyone would go back to represent their company. Whenever he was available, he would never say no. He always shared his experience and helped the youngsters. Even now sometimes he comes to Mumbai for practice, his participation is always there and should be appreciated," Trivedi quipped.