Suresh Raina: A specialist only in the shorter form of the game?

” As an international batsman, I have to come out to bat under any situation. Sometimes a platform has been laid; on others, we have to build one. That’s part of our job, and that’s why international cricket is so challenging.”

Over the years, Indian cricket has been flooded with talent. Some have not been able to perform well enough and stamp their authority while others have ensured that they have left a lasting impression and are in the team.

The quote mentioned above was said by one who was considered by many as the future of the country’s batting problems after the exit of the ‘Fab Four’. Born on 27 November 1986, Suresh Kumar Raina has been one of the few in the recent past to have played for the country consistently in the ODI and T20 format.

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina in his element!

Yes, I did say ODI and T20. Why did I not mention test? Well, for someone so talented and to have the ability to play more than one particular stroke for a particular ball, Suresh Raina has surely under-performed in the test arena.

Six years ago, the IPL took it’s baby steps and it has reached soaring heights since. And since it’s very inception, Suresh Raina has made his presence felt in the cash rich league.

His explosiveness with the bat combined with his athletic fielding has caught the attention of many a cricket pundit. A part-time off spinner who is by no means a  pushover, he has created his own niche in the shorter forms of the game which demand the kind of qualities this southpaw possesses. Also, his style of batting which is rather risky for a test player furthermore shows why he isn’t a quality test player.

If you’re a good player of the shorter form of the game, say t20, it doesn’t mean you’ll be good in One Day Internationals leave alone test cricket. Kieron Pollard, a t20 specialist has hardly played the way he does for his franchisees when he donned the national team colours. And he for one has never been selected to the test squad. Why?

Nowadays, people who are brought up in cricket crazy nations like India or the West Indies, people are more interested in making the quick bucks than playing for the national colors. We must accept that fact. Any youth of the country would surely opt for playing for the Chennai Super Kings or the Mumbai Indians than playing for the ‘Indian Cricket Team’ and that too in tests.

Suresh Raina

Tests have really been a test for Raina!

Coming back to Suresh Raina, his journey in the test match arena has been a roller coaster ride. He joined his idol Sachin Tendulkar when India were in dire need of a partnership and they two put together a partnership worth more than a double century. But after that, Raina has hardly made his presence felt since then.

In the 16 tests that he has featured in after his debut match, Raina has scored less than 650 runs, which by any international Player’s standards is poor. During the tour of England in the summer of 2011, apart from a half-century in the first Test at Lord’s, Raina managed just 27 runs from seven innings. His abysmal form led to the return of Yuvraj Singh back into the fold.

His temperament in the longer form is often questioned as he rarely plays the waiting game. If you were to be a successful test player, you have to wait for the bad balls. Well, there are some exceptions but his inability to wait for the bad balls and the inability to play the rising ball further show us why Raina is more suited to the shorter form of the game.

Contrary to the test format where he averages a shade over 28, he averages over 35 which for a lower middle order batsman is indeed good. This is because other than Virat Kohli and the openers to a certain extent, India have not had much support in the batting department which is considered the country’s greatest strength in the recent past.

And in sub continental conditions where the Indian batsmen rule, he doesn’t get his chance more often than not due to the consistency of the batsmen in placid tracks which are slow and low and where the Indian batsmen have played all their lives. Considering all this, his performances in the shorter form of the game are truly amazing.

His innings against the Baggy Greens on the quarter finals of the ICC World Cup in 2011 when he also with Yuvraj Singh steered India to safety and led this in to the semi finals will surely not be forgotten easily. The way he batted in such a situation must me lauded. His average in t20’s is also good.

Considering all what I’ve said and what the stats and figures show us, I truly feel that Suresh Kumar Raina is purely a specialist in the shorter form of the game. And it’s now your choice and please do express your opinions in the comments column below! And with being said, I bid adieu.

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