The Indian Premier League could not have come at a more opportune time for Suresh Raina. After hitting form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, the southpaw won a place in the Indian T20 side for the tour of South Africa and while he looked in the groove, barring the final match, could not drop the hammer on his position.
And hence this particular season holds so much importance for him, particularly as the Indian ODI team is still not looking settled for next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.
The number four position and the rest of the middle order is still volatile and Raina’s presence in the mix will add great impetus to the empty slots and will also provide Virat Kohli experience and a bankable entity.
The fact that the World Cup is being held in England works perfectly for the Uttar Pradesh-man as his record is quite impressive in English shores.
In the 11 innings Raina has played in England; he has managed to score 375 runs at an average of 37.50 and with a strike rate of 113.63.
With MS Dhoni well past his prime and with him not being able to hit top gear right from the word go, Raina might well slot into the lower order and with his repertoire of strokes can be the finisher the Indian team is looking for.
We now throw in his bowling and his ability in the field and suddenly we are looking at a complete package, perhaps this IPL is just made for Raina to dream big and breach into the Indian team.
Yes, Suresh Raina is in form, yes he looks hungry, and yes he has the ability. However, now that he knows that the selectors will be keeping a close eye on him, how well he reacts might well define his future and his stalled career with the Indian team.
He is back with the Chennai Super Kings; he is back at the Chepauk, a turf he has ruled for the past eight years and with the yellow jersey on him, Raina will aim to top the batting charts once again. Suresh Raina has shown in the recent past that he is willing to both bide his time in the middle and then go for strokes or go for the full monty right from the get-go, whatever be the scenario of the game, Raina has established himself as a gun player in the shortest format.
We now take a look at his IPL records, and it is nothing short of inspiring.
In 161 matches, the flamboyant left-hander has peeled off 4540 runs at an average of 34.13 and with an impressive strike rate of 139.09. He has 31 fifties and one century to his name.
He is no slouch with the ball either, as he has picked up 25 wickets with a frugal economy rate of 7.39 and can always be counted on to deliver and fill in few overs along the way.
Apart from all this, Raina also is a great thinker of the game and as Dhoni’s understudy he can only grow and if he is indeed included in the Indian team, he will be a great asset to Virat Kohli, both on and off the field.
The ball is squarely in Raina’s court, whether Suresh Raina pulls it away into the stands, or allows it to pass is entirely in his control, but the focus will surely be on him to deliver.