When the Twenty20 tornado hit the world, people were excited yet sceptical about the career prospects of many players. In time, this format made careers, made names, got players from the dead to life, and made One Day International careers too. One such man to have benefited from this tornado was Suresh Raina.
He’s not your technically gifted Indian batsman and neither is he a batsman who looks to spend a huge amount of time at the crease. He’s a batsman who plays his cricket on the edge: fearless and exhilarating. This brand of cricket has been embraced by the masses but therein lies the problem.
Raina’s Test career pretty much ended when he played against Australia in Sydney in January 2015 and got a duck. His Test career started with a century on debut vs Sri Lanka but went into a downward slide since then. His Test career numbers read: 18 Tests, 768 runs, 26.48 average, one hundred, seven fifties and a best score of 120. These are not the numbers of a quality Test player and he is nowhere near the test team with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair and other youngsters ahead of him in the pecking order.
It’s white-ball cricket where Raina has found success. He is a World Cup Winner, a Champions Trophy Winner, a World T20 finalist, two-time IPL Winner and a Champions League T20 Winner. Raina has been an integral part of all these teams. But this is perhaps the end of the golden times. Raina has dropped into a poor slump of form both in ODIs and T20s.
In 2015, Raina played 20 games scoring 517 runs at a paltry average of 32.31. He didn’t play in the season of 2016 and wasn’t picked for the England series. It’s because he has fallen down the pecking order behind Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, and Yuvraj Singh.
His T20 form has suffered too. In his last 28 matches, Raina hasn’t scored a single fifty. He has scored just the 404 runs. This was his comeback series and has failed so far. His last IPL season just had one fifty. He scored 248 runs that season, having never previously failed to reach the 350 mark.
His technique and short ball shortcomings have been a long-time nemesis, and Raina has not found a way past that. They say when you are not getting the runs in international cricket, go back and perform at the domestic level, but is domestic performance enough for Suresh Raina – who hasn’t had a good season in any format for a while – with youngsters stepping up and performing well?
We wonder: what’s next for Suresh Raina, the once integral cog in the Indian wheel?