South Africa vs India 2018 | T20 Series | Suresh Raina

SA vs IND 2018: How will Suresh Raina’s Return To The T20 Team Benefit India

Suresh Raina has finally returned to the Indian team. And while the southpaw has returned to the team after quite a long time, expectations are very high from him. The reason is quite clear. Raina has been tipped to finish India’s prolonged middle-order woes.

India have been on a terrific run of for in limited-overs cricket for quite some time now. The Men in Blue had enjoyed a highly successful 2017. Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, they defeated England, Sri Lanka (twice), Australia and New Zealand in addition to making it to the final of ICC Champions Trophy.

The new year has also started on a similar note for Kohli & Co. India thrashed South Africa by 5-1 to win their first-ever bilateral ODI series in the rainbow nation. The tourists thoroughly dominated the series to write history.

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Kohli led India to 5-1 series win in South Africa (Credits: BCCI)

But amidst all this, one puzzle that still remains unsolved is the Indian batting unit’s no 4 conundrum. Despite all the recent success, India are yet to find the ideal no 4 batsman who can dig the team out of trouble in times of crisis as well as one who can up the ante in case of a good platform set by the top three batsmen.

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Rahane batted at number four against South Africa (Credits: BCCI)

In ODIs, the team has experimented extensively to find an apt number four batsman. 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 were tried at that position but none of them managed to impress. The latest to enter the number four spot roulette is Ajinkya Rahane.

The failure to find a settled number four batsman has given the middle-order a fragile look. The story is pretty much similar in T20Is too. In the last series against Sri Lanka, India tried out MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Manish Pandey at number four. However, it did not yield desired results. India is gearing up for the T20 series against Proteas and the middle-order will be once again under the spotlight.

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The likes of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya have failed to do well in the middle-order (Credits: BCCI)

High hopes from Raina:

As such, hopes will be high from Raina to deliver in the middle-order. The experienced campaigner stormed into the T20 team after doing exceedingly well in this year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.

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Raina last played for India in February 2017 (Credits: AP)

An integral part of the team not very long ago, Raina has ample experience of batting in the middle-order. Only time will tell whether he manages to justify the call or not but the left-handed batsman has ability to provide the much-needed solidarity to the team.

India’s top-order has been in red-hot form for quite some time now. But their work is undone by the fragile middle-order. In case, Raina rediscovers his mojo, the Men in Blue will be tough to stop.

Impressive T20 record:

Despite being out of the T20I team for over a year now, Raina is one of the top performers for the country in this format. He is the first Indian to score a T20I century and interestingly it came against South Africa. Raina is the fourth highest run-scorer for India in T20Is.

Moreover, his track record in the Indian Premier League is also impressive. With 4540 runs to his name, the left-handed batsman is sitting atop the list of most runs.

Here is Raina’s record in T20Is:

Matches Innings Runs Highest Score Average Strike-rate 100s 50s 4s 6s
65 55 1307 101 29.7 132.96 1 4 116 47

 

Raina has all the attributes needed to provide India’s middle-order the much-needed solidarity. And if he manages to find his past form, the Men in Blue will be almost unstoppable.

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