When MS Dhoni urged Suresh Raina to sledge Umar Akmal
What's the story?
Indian batsman Suresh Raina has shed light on a hitherto unseen side of former captain MS Dhoni. Recalling an interesting incident from a high-pressure match between India and Pakistan, the 30-year old revealed that the veteran wicket-keeper batsman once urged him to continue sledging Umar Akmal during Pakistan's run-chase.
In a candid chat on Breakfast With Champions, Raina reminisced, "Once we were playing Pakistan and Umar Akmal was batting. He complained to Dhoni that I was abusing him. I just said that I did not abuse him. He (Dhoni) asked me what happened - I told him that I was trying to throw at Umar and asked him to score some runs to try and chase down the target."
"Dhoni told me, ‘give him more’. This means break him and build some pressure on him. He is a very good reader of the game. He knows what is going to happen and he knows the next step. He always takes three plans to the ground whether he is batting, fielding, wicket-keeping or captaining the side. He plans in the night and then visualises in the morning using his subconscious."
There have only been 12 India-Pakistan matches (across both ODIs and T20Is) involving skipper Dhoni and Raina as well as Umar. While it is unclear on which particular game that the left-hander was referring to, it is pertinent to note that Pakistan had batted second in only five of those matches (3 ODIs and 2 T20Is).
The heart of the matter
Under Dhoni's captaincy, Raina has played a whopping 228 matches for India across all three formats of the game. With extremely valuable cameos in the quarter-final against Australia in Ahmedabad and semi-final against Pakistan in Mohali, the southpaw played his part in propelling India to the 2011 World Cup title.
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Raina was also part of the Indian team which won the 2013 Champions Trophy in England. Even as the vast majority of the public see Dhoni as 'Captain Cool', the left-hander disclosed that the seasoned wicket-keeper batsman has got angry on quite a few occasions. But he only showed his emotions during those brief breaks in between overs when the eyes of the camera were not focused on him.
Dhoni will be seen in action during the upcoming 3-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, starting on December 10 at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. On the other hand, the international futures of Raina and Umar are mired in uncertainty.
In his eventful career thus far, Dhoni has seldom involved in verbal banter with opposition players. His ploy to back Raina's attempts at unsettling Umar was prudent as the Pakistani batsman is known to be slightly fragile during pressure situations.