New Delhi: Suresh Raina's time at the crease in India's second innings against Australia in the fourth Test at Sydney, lasted only three deliveries as the southpaw scored a second successive nought. For a player who made a comeback to the Test team after more than two years, his misery in the longer format of the game was a sight very similar to his Test struggles earlier.
Raina lasted four deliveries in the entire Sydney Test and looked vulnerable throughout. India's decision to test him in the No. 6 position failed to provide any returns. Raina will rue his performance especially with the dismissals he had in both the innings. It was a crucial chance for the Indian senior player to stake a claim in the side, and for now that looks gone.
In his last 14 Test innings including the Sydney Test, Raina has six scores of zero. Interestingly, his last three innings read 0,0 and 0. Raina who made his Test debut in 2010 against Sri Lanka, was a regular feature in the side up till the India's tour of England in 2011. In that 0-4 Test series loss, Raina's fall was inevitable.
Raina has ruled ODI and T20 cricket at will, and has been instrumental for India's success over the last decade. But his performances in the longer format has been woeful. He is quiet similar to Yuvraj Singh who too was a master of the shorter version of the game, but couldn't capitalize in the Test scenario.
India's present No. 6 slot in Tests raises several questions on the batting slot which looks vacant as they haven't found a suitable player who could fit in well.
Rohit Sharma failed in that position for the opening two Tests which paved a way for youngster Lokesh Rahul. But the latter to fizzled out in the drawn Test match at Melbourne, and that prompted the selection of Raina who was warming the bench.
In the end all three failed at that slot.
With Rahul getting a chance in his normal position as an opener at the SCG and Sharma getting a chance in place of an out of form Cheteshwar Pujara at No. 3, their performances were good here in Sydney. This may see India going with Rahul and Sharma in the side's next Test series and if they decide to go without Pujara, the slot at No. 6 will be interesting one to fill.
The likes of Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu and Manoj Tiwary who have been consistent in the domestic campaign should get a look in.
Raina has worked hard in his game over the last two years that led to his selection in the Test squad, but the infamous pair of noughts has done him in once again.
India should identify its players for different formats of the game and select their squad likewise.