For most of the years, Suresh Raina has played the role of a finisher for the Indian team. Talking of his crucial knock against Pakistan in the semi-final of World Cup 2011 to being there with Virat Kohli in the mammoth chase of 321 in just 40 overs against Sri Lanka, Raina was present on the crease at few of the crucial points of Indian cricket.
Along with it, he has also helped the team come out of difficult conditions at times, with MS Dhoni along with him on most of the occasions – who has been the main finisher for the side in past.
With time though, his performance dipped down and he got dropped from the side. He last played an ODI for India in the year 2015 against South Africa in Mumbai. Though he was selected for the ODI series against New Zealand last year but missed it due to viral fever. From then, he hasn’t even been selected in the side in 50-overs format.
Though he made a comeback for England T20I series but still, with BCCI not giving him the central contract, it’s clear that he has been sidelined by the board as of now and the selectors are looking beyond him. (Read Here: Suresh Raina Registers For TNPL 2)
Still, finding a suitable replacement for him is a long race for BCCI where they will have the challenge to come up with some who can finish the games like him. Raina, in an interview with First Post, revealed the key to his success as a finisher and said,
“You need to understand the situation, what target your are chasing and plan accordingly. The most important thing is what mindset you are going in with, in which over and against what opposition. So you already visualise while reading the game, sitting in the dressing room. When you sit inside the dressing room, you analyse, follow what the captains are doing out on the field. You then prepare plan A and if that doesn’t work then have plan B ready. I already choose the bowlers whom I have to attack. If there are five fielders inside the circle, then I know my areas where to hit, I know where I will hit a particular bowler. I have already played 223 ODIs and all that experience comes in handy.”
Both MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina shares a good rapport and it is a known fact that Raina was able to establish himself in the international cricket due to the backing from former India skipper. For the first eight years of IPL, they both played for the same IPL franchise i.e. Chennai Super Kings, so Dhoni showing trust on his long-term partner is understandable.
Dhoni is considered to be the best finisher at the moment and Raina too has learnt a lot from him. He revealed the key to Dhoni’s success as the finisher and said,
He’s been very calm under pressure. He does mistake when the bowler thinks he is done. When the bowler thinks I have had his number, then he will start his brain. So he is way ahead of the bowler. That’s what made him so successful. I have batted with him for so many years. I have batted with him at 5, 6, 7, we have chased at 9, 10, 11 per over. We’ve been complementing each other really well. I tell him I will hit him, he will say just have a look at him first. I tell him you play the sheet anchor’s role. Then sometimes, I feel that he will go after the bowling so at that time he will say you play your natural game and I will attack. If I go after the bowling, he won’t stop me. When you spend much time on and off the field, you get a lot of confidence from your captain, teammate and most importantly your friend. Because you know he will never misguide you.
With Dhoni already leaving captaincy, Raina has a lot of homework to do to make a comeback in the Indian team, as due to his regular absence from domestic cricket, he has already invited a loss of central contract by BCCI. He has to get back that trust and faith from the board and the new captain, so as to make a comeback to the Indian side.
Undoubtedly, he is one of the best players and finisher India had in recent past, but regular performance is the only way through which one can sustain his place in the side. (Read Here: Venkatesh Prasad Eager To Work As Assistant Coach)
Further on being asked for the best advice he has received from Dhoni, Raina said,
“Just be yourself. Enjoy yourself. Cricket is all about enjoyment. If you don’t enjoy then stop playing. That’s what I have learnt from not only the likes of Dhoni but Sachin (Tendulkar), (Virender) Sehwag as well. When he (Sehwag) scored a double hundred, he asked me to pad up and said, “Peheli ball se maarna hai humko.” [We have to hit from the first ball itself.] He was batting on 160, I played only one ball. You get a lot of support to play your natural game.”