Suresh Raina was a "terrific team man" who could have amassed more runs if he had batted up the order, said batting great Rahul Dravid, saluting him for the role he played in India's success in white-ball cricket.
The 33-year-old Raina surprised many when he followed his mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni in international retirement, announcing his decision, just minutes after the former India skipper called it quits on 15 August.
Dravid, who had presented Raina with the ODI and Test caps, on Tuesday paid glowing tribute to the left-handed batsman.
"A lot of success that India had in white-ball cricket, a lot of great moments and memories that India had over the last decade and a half, Suresh has been a really big part of that. I think his contribution in white-ball cricket has been fantastic," he said in a video posted by BCCI on its Twitter handle.
"He is a World cup winner and Champions Trophy winner. He contributed so much on the field, his energy, the enthusiasm he brought, the way he raised the standard of field ..."
A middle-order batsman, Raina amassed nearly 8,000 runs representing India in 18 Tests, 226 ODIs and 78 T20Is in an international career spanning 13 years.
"One thing we always felt is that Suresh did all the difficult things," said Dravid, who is the current NCA chief.
"For most part of his career, he batted lower down the order, fielded at difficult positions and bowled some handy overs and always brought a lot to the team. A terrific team man, who always gave his best, brought great energy to the game and a very skillful batter.
"Honestly his numbers could have been a lot better if he had batted higher up the order, that has been shown in the success he had for CSK (Chennai Super Kings) in the IPL where he bats at No 3. He has been a phenomenal player for IPL."
Raina has scored 5,368 runs in 193 IPL matches for CSK to be placed in the second position in the list of most runs by a batsman in the history of the T20 tournament. He is only second to India skipper Virat Kohli, who tops the chart with 5,412 runs in 177 matches.
"I guess he couldn't replicate the success of his debut hundred and couldn't build on that in his Test career but I think his contribution to One-day cricket was fantastic. He was part of a very successful Indian one-day team over the last decade and a half," Dravid said.
The former India skipper said Raina showed sparks of his brilliance even during his junior days.
"Suresh Raina is one of those really young exciting talents who came through the Indian system in the 2004-05, playing under-19 cricket and doing exceptionally well. You could see even in that time that Suresh was going to be a very, very important player for India and that's how it played out in a decade and a half."
Raina had also captained India briefly, leading the team to ODI series wins over West Indies and Bangladesh and T20 series victory against Zimbabwe.
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