The left-handed attacking batsman attributes his wife for his fitness and healthy lifestyle
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Suresh Raina’s approach to fitness is slightly different from the others in the Indian cricket team, and it’s a routine that seems to be working for him. The current captain of the IPL team Gujarat Lions hasn’t missed a single IPL match since the inception of the T20 league in 2008, barring last season when the swashbuckling left-handed batsman skipped a few as he had to travel to Amsterdam for the birth of his daughter.

The impeccable and athletic fielder is a music lover, and is constantly humming a tune during our interview, and promises to sing a song for us at the end. “Cricket as a sport requires us to be lean and agile, which doesn’t need too much training or gymming. It involves more running, stretching, and outdoor activities, like maybe rafting, trekking or surfing for a wholesome training routine to strengthen your back, glutes, knees, hamstring, and helps you play longer,” he explains and we nod in agreement.

My Wife, My Inspiration
A mainstay of the former IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, Raina attributes his overall fitness improvement to his wife. “She’s strict with her diet and trains hard, so that inspires me. As a bachelor, I wasn’t too prudent with my diet, but she’s brought about these lifestyle changes. She’s vegetarian and doesn’t eat roti or rice,” reveals Raina.

The UP lad acknowledges that he loves chicken and seafood, and was all praises for The Meat and Wine Co Restaurant in Melbourne, where the Indian team often ate together during the 2015 ICC World Cup, and of Zuma in Dubai. He fleetingly mentions his love for Lucky’s Biryani in Mumbai which he unfortunately tries to avoid due to his diet. Though he states that nothing can beat his mum’s Kadhi-Chawal!

The part-time right-arm offbreak bowler admits to bowling over his wife with his skills in the kitchen. “She is a healthy eater, and I love to cook for her whenever I am not touring. She appreciates my daal, risotto, Italian salad, mushroom soup and mozzarella cheese salad—all of which are her favourites. Since she’s lived in Amsterdam for a few years now and isn’t accustomed to Indian street-food, we often cheat on our diet in India and binge on golgappas, chaat and bhel puri,” shares the cricketer.

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Hydrate and Detox
The limited-overs specialist is a clean hitter of the ball with a good range of shots and a calm temperament. He owes much of his positive attitude to trekking in Uttarkhand and regular yoga practice. “I love the mountains and often set out on treks with my friends. I also regularly sign up for yoga retreats and frequently visit Ananda in the Himalayas. These sojourns help me cleanse my system. My wife is also particular about my health and books appointments for me to get my regular health check-ups done. As a professional sportsman, a full health check-up every four months is a must,” says Raina of his off-duty fitness routine.

The attacking left-hander also ensures he eats right during tournaments: “When we’re playing, we eat light and avoid stuffing ourselves. Besides water, we drink plenty of coconut water and energy drinks, and hydrate ourselves optimally and flush out the toxins from our body, so that our body feels good.”

Captain Cool
An important cog in the Indian middle order, Raina has also led the Indian team on several occasions. He speaks of his role as a captain in the absence of Dhoni in the past and now in the IPL. “Captaincy is an important responsibility, but I still try to enjoy my game and give my 100%. I encourage the youngsters in the team to have fun on the field, giving them the freedom to discuss their decisions with me. IPL is a great platform as we learn in abundance from international players - how they think and their tactics,” concludes the highest run-getter in the history of the IPL, and happily breaks into a song, as promised.

Watch Suresh Raina with Jasprit Bumrah, in conversation with Sandeep Patil on Taste Match, Sunday, May 7, at 8pm, only on Living Foodz.

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Creative courtesy: Vartika Pahuja

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