Birthday boy Suresh Raina still hasn’t entered his twilight zone

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Kolkata: Some people are innately gifted and coupled with dedication, they scale big heights in their respective fields.

There are others who may not have been born with a natural flair but it’s their perseverance and commitment that see them make the cut into the elite League. Our birthday boy Suresh Raina falls in the second category. Talented he has always been but it is his steadfast attitude and hunger for success that have earned him a special place in the hearts of Indian cricket fans.

Raina is more like a Mohinder Amarnath and Yashpal Sharma who have won India umpteen number of matches, yet have had to be content with the role of playing the ‘second fiddle.’ Somewhere down the line, the Uttar Pradesh cricketer has been overshadowed by the towering presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. Sad, isn’t it?

But hasn’t it been a constant in the history of the game? Point taken! In the modified versions of the game, Raina has been a pivot down the order having played a role in a number of winning causes, yet his more illustrious teammates ran away with all the credit. But this deprivation has never bogged Raina down and he has been an asset for the Indian team not only with the bat but also with his agility on the field. It is beyond debate that Raina is still one of the swiftest movers on the ground in Indian cricket.
Unfortunately Raina has found himself out of favour with the national selectors of late and has hardly featured in an international outing.

One would have to hunt for logic to back Raina’s exclusion. It’s true he hasn’t been in the peak of his form of late even in the domestic circuit, but experience does count and it could be worth trying him out with an eye on the T20 World Cup, if not in the 50-over format. Being a southpaw, he can confuse the bowlers’ rythm if there is a right-left combination in the middle. And add to it, his ability to roll the arms if needed. A team has to have the perfect blend of exuberance and experience. And Raina despite being in his thirties, exudes zeal.

The Indian Team Management’s penchant for grooming new talent has got him the stick, though keeping in mind the inconsistent middle order, Raina’s experience will come to the Indian team’s aid.

One would have to hunt for logic to back Raina’s exclusion. It’s true he hasn’t been in the peak of his form of late even in the domestic circuit, but experience does count and it could be worth trying him out with an eye on the T20 World Cup, if not in the 50-over format. Being a southpaw, he can confuse the bowlers’ rythm if there is a right-left combination in the middle. And add to it, his ability to roll the arms if needed. A team has to have the perfect blend of exuberance and experience. And Raina despite being in his thirties, exudes zeal.

Captain Kohli who hates ending up on the losing side would do well to use Raina’s potential when the chips are down.

If we look at Raina’s career average in international cricket, it looks far from impressive but let’s not do away with the fact that most of his runs came down the order at Numbers 5 and 6. And in ODIs and T20s, you would be lucky to get a handsome number of overs to pile up big scores.

There is no denying that Raina still can be of utility for the Indian team especially in T20s, but he has to score heavily at the domestic levels to catch the selectors’ eyes. It’s commendable that Raina is in no mood to give up! He is training hard and still harbours dream of donning the national colours.

Batting down the order especially in T20s means by the time your turn comes, time runs out and you have to expedite the scoring rate. Half the time, the greatest of batsmen lose their wicket in pursuit of upping the ante, and Raina has been one such batsman. On the contrary, in the Indian Premier League, he has amassed runs at ease having had the advantage of coming in at Number 3 for the Chennai Super Kings.

There is no denying that Raina still can be of utility for the Indian team especially in T20s, but he has to score heavily at the domestic levels to catch the selectors’ eyes. It’s commendable that Raina is in no mood to give up! He is training hard and still harbours dream of donning the national colours.

It is sheer irony that his promise didn’t reflect on his Test record. Had he got going, he could have been the ideal replacement for Sourav Ganguly at Number 6. However Raina failed to cash in on the opportunities in the five-day version. But let’s not dwell upon it and instead look ahead.

On his birthday, here’s wishing all the luck to him and hoping that he gets to make a comeback into the Indian side soon. And that will only stand Indian cricket at an advantage, make no mistake. Fingers crossed!

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