Dhaka: It's not often that you get to play alongside your childhood hero. That's why Suresh Raina considers himself extremely fortunate that the player he admired as a boy was his captain when made his One-Day International debut and went on to learn from him what professionalism and humility is all about during their seven-year association.
Raina, who once pasted his hero Rahul Dravid's poster on the cupboard in his room at the Lucknow Sports College, forged partnerships with him for India and learned to become a better person off the field. No wonder, he says Dravid is like a "guardian" to him.
Paying his tribute to the justretired Dravid, Raina, here for the ongoing Asia Cup, told MAIL TODAY : "I have not seen anyone as professional as Rahul bhai. He was never controversial, and his perspective of the game was great - and it impacted me. I was lucky that I played with him at the beginning of my international career."
Raina admired the guts Dravid exhibited. "I liked his mantra that if you are disciplined you can achieve many things. He was a person who never gave up even in the toughest of times and against the toughest opposition," he gushed.
Confession of a Dravid fan
One of the most cherished items in the Raina household in Ghaziabad is a notebook that Dravid presented to the lefthander after he won his first ODI Man-of-the-Match award for his 81 not out against England in Faridabad in 2006. "He told me to cherish that moment, though he said many more such moments would come in my career. He presented me with a notebook and asked me to write down in it what I thought of my knock and what people said about me that day. He was the captain and I was touched by the way he spoke to me," Raina disclosed. "I still have that notebook at home, and I have written the advice that people have given me."
Raina says that even as a student he was a fan of Dravid’s technique. "When I was in the hostel, I used to admire his technique which was considered to be one of the best in the world. I won a poster of Rahul in a tennis ball tournament and I pasted in on the iron cupboard of my hostel room," he said. "When I toured Australia in 2002, people there called me Rahul Dravid, probably because they thought I looked like him."
And when Raina made his Test debut, against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2010, Dravid was part of the team. "When I made a century on Test debut, he was happy for me. He said he wanted me to do well in Test cricket as well," said the ODI specialist.
"Even if I am able to replicate 70 per cent of what he practised, it'd help me a great deal. I've always considered him my ideal. He was like my guardian," he stressed. "I wish him all the best. When I go to Bangalore, I’ll meet him. I hope he continues to contribute to the Indian cricket in some capacity or the other."
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2012. MTNPL. All rights reserved