SPORT Reviews

‘Believe’ review: Pushing the boundary

Suresh Raina was once India’s buzzing cog in limited-overs cricket. The southpaw could strike cleanly and his fielding was athletic. The eager-beaver player is a stirring template that the Men in Blue have had as evident through Ajay Jadeja, Robin Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Raina.

And like those players, Raina did not get a longer run in Tests despite his debut hundred against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 2010. However, when he wore India’s blue shade or the yellow hue for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Raina was the master of the turf under lights.

Carving a niche

Hailing from Muradnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Raina was the quintessential small-town cricketer, who surpassed obstacles and carved a niche on the big stage. Currently he is all over the place, be it his social media presence or an impromptu stint in a friendly game at the Afghanistan Embassy premises in Delhi. Though he retired from international cricket last year, he still remains an active cricketer for CSK.

Raina’s story had to be told and the result is Believe, a tiny book at 167 pages but one that packs a punch. The tome has gained immensely through co-author Bharat Sundaresan’s efforts. The voice is Raina’s, the finesse is Bharat’s and we get a portrait of a player, who strove hard and prospered.

The title word ‘believe’ is a slogan that is burnt into Raina’s consciousness both through his own efforts and also from the constant reiteration he got from Sachin Tendulkar. The book isn’t a chronological retelling of Raina’s 34 summers but its chapters oscillate between his sporting and personal life and offer glimpses of Indian cricket, its highs like the 2011 World Cup triumph and also the warts.

Losing one of his elder brothers in an accident is a trauma that makes Raina shudder and his description of life at the Sports Hostel in Lucknow is filled with anguish. The seniors, who ragged him, would contaminate his share of evening milk but a pragmatic Raina writes: “I always filtered the milk using a muslin cloth before drinking the few millilitres left.”

Known for his soft-spoken nature, Raina does have an independent perspective. While he pays his respects to the Indian cricketing greats, he also offers a contrarian view: “I never say Dada (Sourav Ganguly) made this team. He, and (M.S.) Dhoni, did lead and make an impact on it, that’s true. But the man responsible for making the teams for all three formats of the game is Rahul Dravid.”

Bond with Dhoni

Similarly, Raina has his own take on former India coach Greg Chappell: “Despite all the controversies around his coaching career, he taught India how to win and the importance of winning.” The book also throws light on the bond that Raina shares with Dhoni, so much so that he retired on the same day as his more famous buddy. Married to Priyanka and with two tiny-tots at home, Raina believes that he still has a lot to offer to the game.

Like a Twenty20 match, the book quickly cuts to the chase despite the odd typo or those paragraphs being repeated on pages 30 and 31. Bharat also does a hat-tip to himself in naming a chapter ‘The Dhoni Touch’, reminiscent of his previous book!

Believe; Suresh Raina with Bharat Sundaresan, Penguin Random House India, ₹299.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 6:27:02 AM |

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