Batsman Suresh Raina has labelled team-mate Rohit Sharma “the next MS Dhoni”.
Sharma and Raina's international careers overlapped for several years. Raina, though, hasn't played Test, ODI or T20I cricket since 2018. Sharma, meanwhile, has forged ahead as one of India's key cricketers in all three formats.
Whether Dhoni will ever play for India again remains in the balance. He hasn't played international cricket since the 2019 World Cup – and has not been afforded a new contract by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
“I would say he is the next MS Dhoni for the Indian cricket team,” Raina said on The Super Over Podcast.
“I have seen him, he is calm, he likes to listen. He likes to give confidence to the players and on top of that, he likes to lead from the front. When a captain leads from the front and, at the same time, he gives respect to the dressing-room atmosphere, you know you have it all.
“He thinks everyone is a captain. I have seen him, I have played under him when we won the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. I have seen how he gives confidence to young players like Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal.”
Raina and Sharma in the IPL
Mumbai Indians captain Sharma and Chennai Super Kings batsman Raina will oppose each other during the Indian Premier League later this year. Raina, who has also played for the Gujarat Lions, is the second-highest run-scorer in the history of the IPL. Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli has the most and Sharma is in the third place.
“Definitely, I feel I still have it. After every injury-related operation, I feel I'm a different person. You know how it is after rehabilitation. After every rehab, I felt I became tougher, after every rehab I thought I'll play again,” added Raina.
“But I don't want to be so pushy. Somehow I feel I can still play, but at the same time, I want to enjoy my cricket. I haven't enjoyed my cricket in the last couple of years.
“I just want to go out there and smile on the field and enjoy my batting and fielding. Cricket has become very commercial, but at the end of the day, you need to go out there and come back as a happy soul. That's what I'm searching for in my mind.”