India has looked almost unstoppable in One-Day Internationals in the last one year or so. Under Virat Kohli’s exemplary captaincy, the Men in Blue have looked like a force to reckon with.
Since Kohli took charge in January last year, India won series against England, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. They also made it to final of last year’s Champions Trophy. But while the results would paint a picture that would state that this Indian lineup is pretty much settled, the reality suggests otherwise. In the last one year, India’s top-three has scored heavily. The talismanic trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and a formidable bowling lineup has made India a limited-overs powerhouse and the results of the last few months have pretty much proved it.
However, it is not that the team-management is having worry-free nights despite the good results. And the reason behind the same is the fragile middle-order. The middle-order is the one which makes sure that the team finishes strongly after a good start as well as bad start by the top-order.
However, in the last few months, India has not enjoyed the luxury of having a reliable middle-order. Even in the recent ODI series against South Africa, India’s middle-order failed to live up to the expectations.
The Indian camp has experimented extensively in the second half of last year but without much success. The likes of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh have been dumped while youngsters have been pumped in but nothing has worked out so far.
Going back to the Sri Lankan tour in July-August last year, through the ODI series against Australia and New Zealand, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik and last but not the least Ajinkya Rahane have been tried out in the middle-order. And it is safe to say that bringing in new and inexperienced faces is not serving the desired purpose. The constant chopping and changing are hurting India’s chances of having a stable batting order.
Is Raina the answer:
With Team India in desperate need of a solid middle-order batsman, the one man they can turn to is their old warhorse Suresh Raina.
The left-handed batsman has not played in One-Day Internationals since October 2015. He was recalled for the ODI series against New Zealand in 2016 but did not play a single game due to illness. However, with India’s middle-order looking fragile, he might be the answer to the never-ending middle-order woes.
It is high time that the selectors instill their faith in the southpaw once again. The claim is being made not on Raina’s reputation but on his recent performances. The southpaw recently returned to India’s T20I team for the South Africa series and made an instant impact.
Despite not playing international cricket over a year, Raina took the attack to the Proteas from ball one and got starts in all the three games as he scored 15,30 and 43. The boundaries came at will for the Uttar Pradesh man and the only thing he lacked which would have impressed the selectors was a big score under his belt. However, the way he batted in all the games, it was enough to impress one and all.
Moreover, he has ample experience of playing international. The 31-year old, who made his debut way back in 2005, was a part of the team for the 2011 and 2015 World Cup and impressed in both of them.
Suresh Raina’s ODI career in numbers:
Raina is one of the most experienced cricketers in the country right now and might solve India’s long running problem with the middle-order. His performance in South Africa has showed that he already has the confidence and it is now up to the selectors to show faith in him.