Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions will look to turn things around in the upcoming matches © AFP
Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions will look to turn things around in the upcoming matches © AFP

Suresh Raina feels Virat Kohli-led Team India will lift the Champions Trophy once again and says that the time he spent with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will always remain special. Raina also went on to say that he misses his skipper MS Dhoni and was disappointed with how he was removed from captaincy at Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS). Raina-led Gujarat Lions (GL) are currently placed at the bottom of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 table. Raina has scored 159 runs from five innings at 53 and a strike rate of 134.74. But GL are struggling as their bowlers have not been able to deliver, barring Andre Tye, who picked up a hat-trick on his IPL debut. READ: IPL 2017: Suresh Raina urges Gujarat Lions (GL) to improve

On India’s chances of retaining the Champions Trophy, Raina said, “Kohli has done really well in that department [passion and intensity]. I feel he will lift the Champions Trophy for India this time. He knows how to channelise his emotion into aggression,” Raina said.  Raina expressed his regret at how Dhoni’s captaincy situation at RPS was handled, “I was disappointed. He has done so well for the country as well as for the IPL teams. He should be respected every time. It’s about not me saying, it’s the world saying,” Raina told PTI in an interview.

“Everyone supports him on the field. All the players like to play that way. If he starts scoring runs, I don’t think anyone can stop him from winning the Champions Trophy. He has done well in Test and one-day cricket. Now it’s time to go to England and do what MS did in ODIs [in 2013],” the Champions Trophy winner said.

“Having shared the dressing room with him [for India and CSK], you know what goes through when one faces hardships. He [Dhoni] should be respected as a player. In any profession, be it as a player or a journalist, you need to be respected. Even a player, however short his career span may be, wants to earn respect,” Raina added. Though Raina does not believe the current situation at RPS is affecting Dhoni. Raina said, “He’s back among runs. Hope he will do well better after two-three matches. We have only played five matches. After sometime the picture will be clear. He should bat up the order and bat long. He’s a world class finisher.” READ: IPL 2017: Basil Thampi will soon play for India, feels Dwayne Bravo

Talking about his time at CSK the GL skipper said, “The time I spent with Chennai Super Kings will always remain special. We have won so many trophies, be it IPL or Champions League T20. When I was very young, it gave me a great learning opportunity by being among all the legends.”

“By playing IPL, I got over my hesitations. It created a positive vibe in me. Like you say cricketing instincts. You are in a good zone when you hit a bowler instinctively — I developed that and dominated the bowlers,” the southpaw added.

Raina has backed Basil Thampi and Ishan Kishan to go on and play for India in the future.  “He [Thampi] knows what he has to do on the match day as well as in practice. He has done really well in First-Class cricket. He may get a look-in into the Indian team. He works really hard.”

“Ishan Kishan is also a very bright prospect for the Indian team. Both have done well so far. No 7 is such a crucial position, where you have pressure to finish a game. I think he has it in him. He comes from the same place as Dhoni bhai. He has played with him. I’ve seen him for last two years. He got a good attitude. I want him to play for India” READ: IPL 2017: Did Virat Kohli make fun of Ravindra Jadeja’s new avatar?

Raina believes it is just a matter of getting one win under the belt for GL’s season to take off. “This time, we made some mistakes and we are not able to get our combination right. Bravo has been out; Jadeja could not play first two matches. It’s a matter of posting one big win.”

(With inputs from PTI)