‘Dressing-room atmosphere’ is a phrase that is bandied about all too often by modern-day cricketers. However, it’s more than just a worn-out cliché when it comes to understanding why teams such as Chennai Super Kings are consistently successful.

Suresh Raina said as much after his match-winning, unbeaten hundred against Kings XI Punjab on Thursday.

“When you have a positive environment, you tend to learn many good things. Our franchise owners and support staff have also been working hard. We have a team room where we spend a lot of time together, playing table tennis and pool.”

The Muradnagar lad was self-effacing about his exemplary showing over the last six years in the IPL.

“When the team needs you and you deliver, that’s the best feeling. I have been spending a lot of time with Duncan Fletcher (India coach) and Stephen Fleming (CSK coach). I am working on my shape (while executing strokes) with Fleming. Michael Hussey has been my role model in the IPL.”

Rejecting the ‘peaking-too-early’ theory, the 26-year-old Raina lauded his side’s bowling, particularly that of Dwayne Bravo.

“There are many matches coming up, especially the 4 p.m. games, for which we need to be fresh. We need to keep working on our fitness.”

David Hussey didn’t gloss over his team’s inability to finish ‘crunch games’.

“That’s the difference. Against Pune, we had a great run-chase. I thought that is going to be the stepping stone. There has been a very tough road trip to Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.”

According to the Kings XI skipper, death-bowling was a major reason for the loss to CSK.

“They executed their wide yorkers and slower balls well. I believe that’s the difference between a good and a great team. I was pretty happy and relieved that my brother and MS (Dhoni) missed out.”