Suresh Raina has played the most number of matches in IPL since its inception © IANS
Suresh Raina has played the most number of matches in IPL since its inception © IANS

Suresh Raina has played the most number of matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL) since its inception. He has played 125 matches out of 502 IPL matches played till Monday night. His Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni has played three less than him, probably making Raina the most experienced and valuable player in the cash-rich tournament. Not only that, Raina has scored more than 400 runs in each and every season of IPL, with more than 500 scores in three different seasons — 2010, 2013 and 2014. However, Raina has had a slow start to IPL 2015. From 10 matches so far, Raina has scored 256 runs and averages around 28.44. His strike is below 130 and he scored his second half-century of the season against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Monday. Read: MS Dhoni’s leadership the key for CSK’s win against RCB: Suresh Raina

Asked about the ongoing IPL 2015 season, Raina said, “I will tell you one thing very honestly. I have made runs in the last seven seasons and I am very proud of those performances. But the way I am enjoying my batting this season, I haven’t done in the past. I may be scoring 20-30 runs but my mindset is very good this year. I have been getting out playing proper cricketing shots and the ball is often going straight to the fielders. But I feel really good about my batting.” Read: CSK beat RCB by 24 runs in Match 37 of IPL 2015

“I have settled well into the No. 3 role with CSK. I have been batting instinctively since the last 10 years, but now as the one-down batsman I have to be discreet about when to attack and who to attack. You have to plan a lot more about the middle-overs and building partnerships. I believe I have a better understanding of that this season although the runs against my name are less,” Raina was quoted as saying by the official IPL website. Read: CSK score 148/9 against RCB in Match 37 of IPL 2015

Raina is very satisfied by the way he played his shots against RCB in IPL 2015 Match 37. He said, “It is a very good point. In fact, I have had that chat with Stephen Fleming. For instance, today, when McCullum hit a couple of boundaries early, I knew I could do it too. But I controlled my natural game. Today’s knock gives me a lot of satisfaction because of the way I took responsibility to build the innings for the team rather than insisting on playing my natural game.” Read: CSK vs RCB, Match 37 IPL 2015 Highlights: Suresh Raina’s fifty, Dwayne Bravo’s hand of god & other highlights

Speaking about what could have been the problem with Raina’s performances in IPL 8, the India batsman said, “It is because I wasn’t scoring runs. That put pressure on MS [Dhoni], [Dwayne] Bravo, Jaddu [Ravindra Jadeja] and [Pawan]Negi. If the top-three or four give them a platform of 140 in 15 overs, these guys can score 70 in the last five on a batting wicket. It is unfair to expect them to do that in Chennai because the wicket doesn’t allow that.” IPL 2015 Highest run-scorer: List of best batsmen in IPL 8

Raina feels Virat Kohli’s run out by Bravo has been the turning point of the match. CSK vs RCB IPL 2015 Match 38: Dwayne Bravo’s brilliance ends Virat Kohli’s innings

“When Virat [Kohli] was batting, I was a bit worried. I knew we had to get him out quickly because he is a master at chasing scores and finishing off games. The run-out that Bravo pulled off was brilliant. What made it all the more special is that it was so hot out there. In such extreme conditions sometimes your focus wavers. But to have that kind of awareness and then act briskly to it is something special. It is very difficult to play in Chennai. Besides playing against each other, the two teams are also up against the heat.” IPL 2015 Highest wicket-taker: List of best bowlers in IPL 8

“In T20s one stop or one catch has a lot of impact. It changes the entire mindset of the batsman; he feels like everything he hits is going to the fielders. Batting at No. 3 I have experienced that. When AB [de Villiers] or Virat or [Ajinkya] Rahane at point stop a ball I play, it puts pressure on me to get the ball outside the circle. And that forces you to take risks.” IPL 2015 Points Table & Team Standings

Speaking about CSK’s death bowling issue and how it has been sorted out, Raina said, “One very pleasing thing this IPL is the way the Indian bowlers are doing at the death. Ashish Nehra has been so crucial for us this season. Mohit Sharma can still improve but he is getting there. Look at Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Bhuvi has improved so much as a death bowler. Ishwar Pandey came in today and did well for us; he got the wicket of AB de Villiers. Our bowlers will only get better from here.” IPL 2015 Most 6s and 4s: List of most dangerous batsmen in IPL 8

“For me the essence of the IPL is young Indian players showing their heart. Talking about this season alone, from our team I am very impressed with Pawan Negi. He has the heart. Look at Sarfaraz [Khan] – the 17-year-old who is not overwhelmed by the occasion. When you see a player you come to know whether he has the heart for the big occasions. And it is not only the youngsters – look at Brad Hogg and Pravin Tambe. They haven’t let their age come in way of their passion,” Raina concluded.