Suresh Raina is unsold in the auction, ending a long and consistent run for Chennai Super Kings. He is arguable their best cricketer, and one of the best batters in IPL history. Through his time at CSK, Raina owned the number three position, and racked up numerous records. He saved Chennai on many occasions, and spent a large chunk of his career with the franchise while earning the name Mr.IPL through countless consistent performances.
Suresh Raina came into the Chennai Super Kings team in 2008, after being bought as a 21-year-old in the inaugural auction. His international career was a concern, as Raina was recovering from severe knee surgery, an lost a year of Cricket. He walked into a side with legends like Stephan Fleming, and Matthew Hayden, and managed to make a strong impact early on. In his first season, Raina amassed 421 runs and finished as CSK’s leading run-scorer in the season. He was shuffled around the batting order, but after some valuable 30s mid-season Suresh Raina was promoted to number three and from then the rest was history. He made a valuable fifty in the semi’s and was the leading run-scorer in the finals.
In 2009, Suresh Raina continued his run of form, and made another 434 runs. He also had a 98 as the tournament was in South Africa, and his consistent batting took CSK to the next stage. He was CSK’s second highest scorer in the season, finishing behind Matthew Hayden.
2010 turned out to be a big season for Suresh Raina. Matthew Hayden was out of form, and Suresh Raina along with Murali Vijay had dream seasons. They scored the bulk of the runs for CSK, and Suresh Raina finished with 520 runs in the season. He overtook Adam Gilchrist as the leading run-scorer in IPL, and held onto the title of leading run-scorer for six years, with Virat Kohli going past his tally in Chennai Super Kings.
He was consistent all through the season, and converted his 50s into some key 70s and 80s, while also finishing chases frequently. He took up captaincy for a couple games as well with Dhoni injured. The biggest moment for Suresh Raina this season though, was his performance in the finals. With CSK chasing their first title, Suresh Raina came up with an all-round performance in the final to save CSK. He scored 57 when Chennai was struggling, and took a wicket along with a brilliant catch to turn the game.
2010 turned out to be a big year in Suresh Raina’s early career, as he was promoted to captain India when several seniors were rested. His form continued in the CLT20 as Raina and Vijay again carried the team to a trophy. He took four wickets against the Victorian Bushrangers, and made some large scores against Wayamba Elevens and Royal Challengers in the semi-finals.
He was retained for the 2011 edition, and Raina again played a key role. This time around, Suresh Raina got of to a silent start. He registered his first IPL duck, but after a fifty against Kochi Tuskers Raina managed to get back to his best. He got back into his habit of making 30s and 40s, and with the entire team in good form, CSK managed to make the playoffs.
The playoffs saw Raina play one of his best IPL knocks. Chasing a stiff target in the qualifier against RCB, CSK were struggling with the early loss of Hussey and Vijay. Suresh Raina started slow, and was struggling with cramps. Despite the struggle, and pain Raina went on to make 73, and took Chennai home with a wonderful innings. CSK ended with another trophy, and Suresh Raina completed another season with 400 runs.
2012 was one of Suresh Raina’s worst seasons in his prime years. It was a good season as Raina made 400 runs again, but by his standards he had a tougher time. He finished the season as CSKs highest run getter for the third time in five years, but didn’t score a single fifty through the group stages. He had some nice 30s, was a brilliant fielder as always, and bowled pretty well too. His best knock though came in the finals. Facing KKR and Sunil Narine, who was unplayable, Suresh Raina took on the attack. He smoked 5 sixers, and hammered Sunil Narine, leaving the tournaments best bowler wicketless and expensive. The innings wasn’t enough though as the side finished on the losing team.
In 2013 Suresh Raina started slow again, but hit his stride hard. As the tournament approached its middle stages, Raina came up with a string of fifties along with a century and 99. His form kept getting better and Raina finished as one of the top run-getters in the tournament. He was second for his team after Mike Hussey, and the two players helped CSK make another final. Raina couldn’t repeat his previous heroics in the finals though as he got out early against the Mumbai Indians as Chennai lost. He made 400 runs in the tournament yet again and finished with a total of 548 runs.
2014 saw the best of Suresh Raina. He started the tournament nicely after being retained yet again, and scored runs with ease. His signature shots were on display and Raina made a lot of 40s to go with his five fifties. He enjoyed his contest with Sunil Narine again and played a huge role in the playoffs. Chasing against Mumbai, CSK were in a sticky situation before Raina made a steady 50 to steer his team home. Suresh Raina is the leading run-scorer in playoff games, and his ability to play in big games was on complete display in the playoffs. After taking them to the second qualifier, Suresh Raina almost saved his side again after his bowlers let down the team.
Chasing 227, Suresh Raina came in during the first over and left no stone unturned. He took apart each bowler in the powerplay and showed no mercy to the likes of Mitchell Johnson who was back after tormenting the English batters in the Ashes. The short-ball that dismissed Raina wasn’t working and Raina made a breathtaking 87 off 25, while CSK made 100 in the powerplay. Threatening to take the game away on his own, sanity was restored as Raina was run-out after the powerplay triggering a heartbreaking collapse and resulting in defeat.
While CSK lost in the qualifier 2, they got some respite in the 2014 Champions League T20. Through the tournament Suresh Raina was again the best batter in his team. He scored well in the group stages, and made a century in a big game again, facing Kolkata in the finals, to take his team to the trophy. Chennai won the tournament, and Raina was given the man of the tournament award. He finished as the highest run-scorer in the history of the league, and was truly one of the best players in the tournament.
2015 turned out to be the start of Raina’s downfall. He struggled for runs, made only two fifties and had lots of low scores. The quickfire 30s were gone and the player that carried his team through the tournament was missing. Raina finished with less than 400 runs for the first time in his career as CSK lost another final against the Mumbai Indians.
With Chennai unable to play, Suresh Raina went to the Gujurat Lions for two seasons and was captain. He did well in both seasons, and was retained by Chennai Super Kings when they came back in 2018. 2018 turned out to be a good season for him as he made 445 runs. His consistent 30s were back, and Suresh Raina lived up to his ability as the team’s best player. His contribution did go a little unnoticed though as the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson and MS Dhoni finished with a lot of runs as well.
With the batters in good form though, CSK were able to win another title with ease and Raina came back to the Indian team through his good form. 2018 saw another interesting stat in Raina’s CSK Career. He missed a game for the first time in CSK’s IPL history, as Raina was injured against Kings XI Punjab. Up until 2020, Raina was the most capped player in IPL, and held a handful of records.
Come 2019 though the equation changed again. Suresh Raina was out of the Indian team, he wasn’t as fit anymore and the runs disappeared. He made three fifties, but his fluency was gone, and the low-scores increased. To make things worse, Raina’s fielding which is a key aspect in his game deteriorated. As one of the best fielders in the World, Raina looked a little slower. He dropped a catch in the finals, taking many back to the first IPL final when a 21 year old Raina dropped a catch against Rajasthan Royals. While batting as well, Raina struggled in the finals, and couldn’t contribute much as CSK lost another final to Mumbai.
In 2020, Suresh Raina sat out due to personal reasons. His presence at number three was missed, as the side lacked intent to score in the powerplay, which Suresh Raina often does despite his poor form. He came back in 2021, but the gap saw a lot change. Suresh Raina lost his number three position to Moeen Ali, and was shuffled behind the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja as well at times. He started the tournament with a fifty, showing glimpses of peak Raina, but couldn’t maintain his form.
After facing an over of short deliveries from the fiery Riley Meredith, Suresh Raina’s old weakness surfaced, and he looked tensed. He appeared scared to play the fast bowlers, and couldn’t build on his form after the fifty. After a string of low scores with some poor shot selection, Suresh Raina was left out of the team. His replacement, Robin Uthappa did a good job in his place, ending the tournament for Raina.
After a tournament which saw Raina score just 160 runs, Mr.IPL, and CSK’s best batter over the years was not retained by his team. He then went on to be overlooked in the auction, ending Suresh Raina’s run as CSK’s best player. There is still a chance of him coming back next year or as a replacement this season, but current indications show that the chance of Mr. IPL coming back to the IPL seems very unlikely. The news of him going unsold turned out to be an emotional one for many. The tournament is unlikely to see another number three left-hander as talented, dominating, dedicated and loyal to a franchise as the one and only Suresh Raina.