By his standards, Suresh Raina was having an average seventh season in the Indian Premier League. CSK were struggling to find their mojo and a major reason behind that was the form of Suresh Raina. But with the kind of a fighter he is, Raina played a spectacular innings in CSK`s last game of the season, where he unleashed some incredible strokes and massacred 87 runs off just 25 balls. It needed something equally brilliant to dismiss him and George Bailey delivered exactly that - a run-out which tilted the game in KXIP`s favour.
Days after Raina played one of the best innings in IPL history by an Indian player, Indian selectors decided to reward the left-hander with a major responsibility – to lead the Indian team for the Bangladesh tour.
Considering the crucial tour to England, senior players like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami were rested for the Bangladesh tour – a decision which miffed several Bangladeshi cricketers who were of the view that the Indian team was taking the series very lightly.
While the seniors would be enjoying their much-needed break, it is a big challenge for Suresh Raina to lead a young team, which has some of the best players we have seen from the Indian lot this IPL.
Kedar Jadhav, Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel are all names which have done well in the Indian domestic circuit and the exposure at the international level could further polish their skills.
Saha in particular, has lived under the shadow of MS Dhoni for over the years. After being picked by Kings XI Punjab for the seventh edition, Saha looked like Punjab’s most mature player throughout the series. He was promoted in the batting order for disaster management when wickets fell early, and he would change gears the moment his side strengthened their grip in any match. He also created history by becoming the first cricketer to score a century in an IPL final and would be keen to show the selectors that he has all that is needed to excel at the international stage as well.
The series would be crucial for players like Robin Uthappa and Manoj Tiwary who have been warming the benches for years now. While Uthappa had an incredible run in IPL 7 where he single-handedly won back-to-back matches for title winners KKR, Tiwary is someone who has been always consistent, despite not getting too many chances at the big stage.
Not to forget, the team also has players like Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu who will have the onus of scoring big knocks in the absence of their seniors.
Importantly, it would be another big test for Suresh Raina. Despite being a prolific run-scorer for the Indian team lower down the order, the left-hander was dropped from India’s Asia Cup squad earlier this year. He has been often criticized for his inability to bat well against the short pitched deliveries.
Despite some flaws, an Indian team looks incomplete without Raina. He is a relentless player, and apart from his batting skills, he is a livewire on the field where he saves boundaries and never hesitates in going for a catch from impossible angles.
While the series is seen as a low key affair, it is a very good opportunity for Raina to silence the critics by leading his team to a comprehensive win.