The former Indian all rounder who calls himself “shy and reserved” has bared it all in his forthcoming memoir titled Believe. He pens down how his wife, Priyanka Chaudhary has been an “absolute rock” through the ups and downs in his life, and how he has a lot of similarities with his beloved “Mahi bhai” (MS Dhoni) as both are “small-town boys” who always look for a “lot of masti”. And since he boasts to have unpeeled a lot of layers of his life in this piece of writing, he’s of the opinion that: “My book has the potential to both interest and inspire people in the form of a biopic!”
Sounding optimistic to take up any scripts that come his way, Raina says, “I’ve spoken to people involved with Bollywood over the years. Let’s see… if I’m ever approached with a script that interests me, I might consider it for sure!”
Ranked among one of the best in the T20 batsmen, Raina has made a mark in international cricket, and recalls how taking one step at a time helped him achieve success. He says, “I don’t think I’ve changed at all as a person. Deep inside, I’m still the same Suresh Raina who went to Lucknow Sports College. I’ve of course opened up a lot more since then, with all the exposure that being an Indian cricketer has given me. But through it all, I think the one principle I’ve stuck to is being in the present moment. That’s the only thing in your control!”
It’s said that half the battle is won by having the right attitude, and Raina vouches by this adage: “Oh, in sport, you cannot survive without having the right attitude! As the cliché goes, there’ll always be more failure than success in your path. And if you let the bad times get to you or push you down, then you’ll never be able to perform at your peak ability. What I mean by the right attitude is to develop a shield to any kind of negativity, whether it’s external or internal. There have been times in my career when I thought my time was up especially during my injury phases, but it was the never give up attitude that kept me going! It’s something I feel everyone needs to develop regardless of what you do in life,” says the left-handed batsman, who made his international debut in 2005 under former Indian team head coach Greg Chappell.
He and his wife, social activist Priyanka, are known to give #CoupleGoals. And Raina shares that contrary to what many would thing, Priyanka isn’t his critic but someone with whom he can discuss anything for she always gives him an “honest opinion”. “That’s so important to have in life! It’s a support system we all need. Priyanka has done wonders in her own professional life, and there’s much to learn from her on that front. She doesn’t know enough about cricket to have much of an opinion on that aspect of my life. But yes, for everything else, we believe a lot in sharing our views and ideas with each other,” he explains.
With quite a few biographies and autobiographies of sportspersons having released in the recent past, a certain scepticism on what to include comes to one’s mind. But Raina says he hasn’t left anything out “consciously”. “I have, however, made sure that there’s as little negativity as possible. I have still described the times in my life which I found challenging in detail. There’s no hiding from it. But my intention to do the book is to mainly spread the message of positivity, so that everyone who reads it walks away with lessons on how to deal with difficult situations and overcome them. I’ve tried to do that alongside chronicling my own life story,” he says.
Donning the writers hat was however not easy for this sportsperson, but Raina had Steve Waugh’s autobiography Out of My Comfort Zone, among others to inspire him. “He had given it to me himself,” reveals Raina, adding, “I have also read and been inspired by other books like the ones about Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer. There’s also The Dhoni Touch written by my co-author Bharat Sundaresan about the enigmatic journey of Mahi bhai. Recently, I read Abhinav Bindra’s excellent biography, which is co-authored by Rohit Brijnath.”
And any conversation with Raina cannot be complete without the mention of the many interesting bits about his Mahi Bhai, and the similarities with his own life. Sharing about his camaraderie with Dhoni, Raina adds, “We started playing cricket for India around the same time. Both he and I have really grown together as cricketers and as people during the 16-17 years since. I’ve learnt a lot from him along the way; to be humble and to respect the game. The game will always be bigger than you. In him, I found someone who could relate with my life story, a small-town boy who learnt to succeed on the big stage through sheer hard work and dedication. In the early days, we would always be together, eating at food courts and even sharing rooms. We were then fortunate to join Chennai Super Kings, and our bond has only grown tighter since. On the field, it’s always serious business but off it, there’s never a dull moment between us. Always a lot of masti!”