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IPL 2016: Suresh Raina credits wife Priyanka for his success as captain

India Today logo India Today 25-04-2016

For long, Suresh Raina was in the shade of India's limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Uttar Pradesh batsman had played under Dhoni for eight seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at Chennai Super Kings. Known to be a team man, Raina was always there to answer his captain's call. Raina always wanted to make an impact, be it his contribution with the bat or on the field, he was always there.

Raina, in season nine of IPL, has donned the role of captaincy with the Rajkot-based franchise Gujarat Lions. And if the early signs are anything to go by, Raina looks to be a shrewd and effective leader. Raina's orange army is on top of the points table after winning four of its five encounters in this season.

The likes of Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum, who himself was one of the most successful skippers for New Zealand, haveheaped praise on Raina's captaincy. "He has remained calm, composed under pressure and made sound decisions," McCullum had said.

And Raina credits his wife Priyanka for his recent success saying she had helped him become more responsible and calm. "I think I have improved a lot as a person after my marriage. I have become very calm and responsible," Raina toldiplt20.com.

Raina tied the knot with Priyanka, who was his childhood friend, in April last year. The left-handed batsman, who has never missed an IPL game so far, is likely to skip a few this season as he will be flying to Netherlands to be with his wife during the birth of their first child.

The T20 specialist said his wife had no problems with him spending more time with his Gujarat teammates and that she had understood and supported him well. "She encourages me to spend more time with my teammates even if that means I don't have enough time left for her. Her support and understanding has given me more opportunities to form a bond with this new team, understand my players and gel them together," Raina said.

Raina also said the time he spent with skipper Dhoni is helping him understand the nuances of the game. Raina revealed that he kept talking with Dhoni while fielding at slips and had observed his skipper's decision-making routines. "I have spent a lot of time with MS over the last 10-15 years and I have seen how he goes about his job as a captain before and during a game. I keep talking to him and asking him questions in the field, standing at slip or point as to what he is thinking and why he made a particular move. He is so calm under pressure," Raina said.

Dhoni was not the only inspiration for Raina. Rahul Dravid, under whom he made his ODI debut in 2005, is a repository of cricket knowledge, according to Raina. He also lauds the role of his Ranji team skipper Mohammad Kaif during the initial stages of his cricket career. "At a very young age I played with Rahul (Dravid) bhai and Kaif and I gathered a lot from these men," he said.

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