Although it is known fact that Suresh Raina finds it difficult to negotiate short deliveries but as usual Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes that a big deal is being made out of Suresh Raina’s inability to deal with short-pitched bowling. Dhoni, while imposing full faith in Raina, stressed that the UP lad is the best bet to bat at No.5 since Yuvraj Singh vacated that spot.
When asked about Raina’s familiar way of dismissal as he failed again to cope with a rising delivery which resulted in him being caught behind off Dwayne Smith for 22 against West Indies, Dhoni firmly backed his left handed lieutenant Raina. Dhoni said, “It’s the media that makes a big deal of this. Batsmen from other countries also get out to the short-pitched deliveries but it is something that is put only on our head — he (Raina) is the one who gets out to the short ball, bowl short to him. I think he is batting well”.
Dhoni rightfully emphasized the need to have Raina at the No.5 position for India’s plans after Yuvraj Singh consistently did well in that position. Justifying his point, he added, “Just look at the history of Indian cricket and the number of people who have batted at No.5 and just check how many have been successful? Yuvraj Singh must be the only player who did consistently well for us and then he got promoted to bat at No 4. Otherwise, we have kept shuffling people. You will have to ask some of the batsmen who have batted at that number. Virat has batted at that number, Rohit has batted, and nobody has been really successful.”
He added “So Raina is the best that we have got and we need to back him. Because if you don’t back him, the new guy who comes, he will be like, let me bat for myself and that’s not a good habit to grow. We don’t want that to happen in our team.”
He then explained what he means by batting for selfish reasons. Further elaborating the crucial situation of batsman batting on 5th spot, he said, “If you are batting in the 40th over, how much can you score? And if you get out, you will get out for 20-25 runs. So at the end of the third game, we would hear things like, he is not scoring, he is out of form, he is only making 20 runs.”
Stressing his viewpoint , Dhoni clarified, “But that’s the point where the strike-rate is more important because if you keep emphasising this point, then the batsman starts playing for himself… We are trying to make as many runs as possible because no score is a safe score in modern cricket. If you make 300, try to push it to 305 and so on”.
On the whole, it is the level of expectations from talented Raina that everyone believes that he will contribute substantially, every time he comes out to bat but the justification given by Dhoni seems appropriate. But this does not provide any leverage to Raina who must learn to rise to occasion. Otherwise, in today’s competitive cricket, no one is indispensable. Meanwhile we simply appreciate the wisdom of MSD.