In the last year or so Team India middle-order batsman Suresh Raina gave his everything to make a national return. A year later he is again part of the national team albeit in the shortest format. Before the opening T20I against South Africa, Raina last donned national colors against England in January last year. Despite a fluent half-century he was overlooked for the future tours. The main reason behind his ouster was fitness.
In a team where most of the players are world-class athletes, it became more and more difficult for Raina to make a return. To make matter worse he had put on some weight which didn’t help his cause. He kept failing the yo-yo test, a parameter which has become essential for national selection. However, he worked pretty hard and eventually made a return in the ongoing T20I series in South Africa.
After a sensational ODI series, India would have been reluctant to go in with new faces. However, captain, Virat Kohli was in no way dropping Raina from the playing XI especially after including him in the squad. The southpaw has shown in the past that he can be a sensational T20I player. Kohli has taken over Raina in the recent times but the southpaw used to be the most prolific batsman in the shortest format.
Raina in No 3
Kohli was in the form of his life during the ODI series. The skipper smashed 558 runs in 6 matches which included 3 hundred and a fifty. Over the years he has made the No 3 position in limited overs cricket his very own. The way he has handled run chases and built innings has been simply mesmerizing. However, he decided to elevate Raina to the No 3 position
In the past, Raina has been phenomenal at this position in the IPL. The southpaw is a very dangerous player especially in the powerplays which was perhaps the reason behind Kohli sending him up the order.
Raina has played some stellar knocks for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and had made this position his own. Even for Gujarat Lions, he was a prolific run scorer at No 3. He has been short of confidence in the recent past and needed the backing of the skipper.
Earlier it was Kohli who played a huge role in the return of Yuvraj Singh. Raina began with a gigantic six as he pulled a short of length delivery from Junior Dala straight over the ropes. He struck a couple of fours but couldn’t quite convert his start and was dismissed on 15.
Raina’s performance by battting positions in IPL
The IPL record clearly shows that Raina has been a prolific run scorer in the No 3 position.
Raina’s Performance by batting position in T20I’s
Even in T20I’s Raina has a much better record while batting at No 3 than other positions
A Long run expected for Raina
Team India skipper is a sort of an individual who loves giving his players a long run. Despite Raina’s failure, Kohli in all likelihood will again send him to bat at No 3 in the 2nd T20I. Kohli is well aware of the value of Raina who is definitely in his scheme of things for the 2019 World Cup. Raina looks a much fitter individual which is one of the main criteria to be part of Virat Kohli’s India.
Over the years, the southpaw has proved that he is a superstar in this format. In the last couple of years, he wasn’t the old livewire Raina. However, he has returned fitter and will continue to finish the last phase of his career on a high.