Two cricketers who have completely hogged the headlines recently are MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina. “From 1929 hours consider me as retired” is a sentence every Indian cricket fan was dreading ever since that infamous run out against New Zealand in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. So on August 15, when India were celebrating it’s 74th Independence Day, former India captain and a legend of the game, MS Dhoni officially called time on his illustrious international career.
Dhoni has always done everything in his own fashion and his retirement announcement wasn’t ordinary either. He took to Instagram to formally announce it with a video showcasing some of the top moments of ‘Mahi’ in the Indian jersey. With so much conjecture about his retirement earlier this year, the helicopter seems to have finally landed and its international services have been suspended forever.
It seems like wherever senior ‘Thala’ goes, junior ‘Thala’ follows. Suresh Raina also took to Instagram to announce his retirement shortly after and the whole country sat back and reflected on the significant contributions these two have had for the country. So as a tribute to these two Indian stalwarts, why not take a trip down memory lane and relive five of the best partnerships ever stitched together between MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina.
196* vs Zimbabwe, Eden Park (2015)
In the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, this was India’s last pool game of the tournament. At this stage, India had made a blistering start to the competition, winning all the games before this and bowling out opposition batting line-ups in each match. However, while chasing 288 to keep their hundred per cent record intact, India had a disastrous start with the top four back in the hut after 22.4 overs with just 92 on the board.
MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina had the responsibility to take the team home. The duo stitched together a 196-run stand and registered a six-wicket win for India. Raina went on to win the Man of the Match with his first World Cup hundred while Dhoni remained unbeaten on 85.
169 vs England, Lord’s (2011)
This was the second biggest partnership between MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina in Indian colours. In a tour where nothing went right for Dhoni’s India, this partnership and Rahul Dravid’s form were probably the only highlights of the series. After a humiliating loss in the Test series, England continued their boisterous form in the ODI series and won the first two ODIs as well.
Batting first, India were 110 for 4 when MS Dhoni joined the southpaw in the middle. Together they ran hard and hustled for those runs and put together a 169 run partnership for the fifth wicket as India finished the innings at 280. However, this wasn’t enough for a victory as the match ended in a draw with the D/L method coming into the scene. Ravi Bopara and Raina shared the Man of the Match award for this match.
144 vs England, Cardiff (2014)
Again after a humbling defeat in the Test series, India were looking for redemption in the ODIs. The first match was rained out and for the second ODI, we moved to Cardiff. On a bowling-friendly wicket, India were struggling at 19/2 as Virat Kohli’s disastrous tour of England continued. Rahane and Rohit steadied the ship for India in the middle phase, before MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina joined forces at 132/4 in the 30th over.
Raina was in full form and in the mood to destroy the English bowling line-up. Dhoni played it sensibly and concentrated on giving the strike back to Raina more often than not. While Raina went berserk, Dhoni made a well-compiled half-century at run a ball. Raina went on to score a century off just 75 balls and India posted a mammoth total of 304. The spinners were on point from the word go and India won the match by 133 runs (D/L method).
143 vs Sri Lanka, Colombo (2008)
It was 2008 and India were touring Sri Lanka. The Men in Blue lost the Test series 2-1 but showed their supremacy in the limited-overs format. This was the reserve day for the 4th ODI and India came into this match leading the five-match ODI series 2-1. The OGs will remember this as the debut series of Virat Kohli. Anyway moving onto our duo, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina came together when India were in a slight spot of bother at 81/3 after 17.3 overs.
Both were decisive with their footwork, regularly charging down the track to negate the spin. The running between the wickets was sharp, with Raina playing some breathtaking lofted drives. While Raina played his big shots, Captain Cool was content with some quick ones and twos en route to a well-crafted 71. Raina again went on to pick the Man of the Match award for his match-winning 76 and India sealed their maiden triumph on Sri Lankan soil.
103 vs West Indies, Roseau (2011)
This one is the only memorable red-ball partnership we could find for the pair. It came in the 2011 tour of West Indies, in India’s first innings of the third Test. This was the only 100 partnership for the duo in Test cricket. MS Dhoni joined Suresh Raina in the middle with the score at 172/5. They added 103 runs in just 30 overs and helped India take a first-innings lead of 143 runs. Both of them managed a half-century. MS got out on 74 and Raina was trapped lbw at 50. The match ended in a draw and India went on to win the three-match Test series, 1-0.
Apart from these brilliant partnerships, the duo put together 3484 runs at a commendable average of 57.11 for fourth and lower wickets in ODI cricket and it still stands as the most by any pair. Indian cricket will find it difficult to find loyal players like these two as they have left massive shoes to fill in the future.
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