When most of his India teammates came under fire for their flop show in the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, Suresh Raina escaped unscathed. This is despite being part of the squad that surrendered meekly in two consecutive editions of the tournament. The reason was simple. The Uttar Pradesh batsman was the highest run-getter for India (219 runs from five matches with a high score of 101) and the standout performer in his team's short stint in the ICC event.
Raina's flamboyance with the bat earlier helped Chennai Super Kings clinch their maiden IPL title this year. Even when he stood in for MS Dhoni as skipper in a few matches in IPL-III, Raina found success.
The question: is he ready to lead India, in place of Dhoni? “It's a great honour and challenge for me to lead the Indian team. I have a few match-winners in the squad and the tour should be interesting,” Raina said before leaving for Zimbabwe on Tuesday.
The selectors decided to rest seniors Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Praveen Kumar. Raina was named the captain, with Virat Kohli as his deputy. It will be the first time Raina will be leading India, and the young cricketer seems aware of the responsibilities and that come with being national captain. “Twenty20 is a different format. In a 50-over match, there is more scope and we are at present second in the ODI list. I hope I will fulfill my duties,” he said.
Raina emphasized the ‘no shortcut’ route to success, saying, “I have had discussions with Dhoni and he has told me to keep things simple,” he said.
Raina seemed unfazed by the absence of seniors from the squad. “Generally, the seniors don’t get rest. So it’s a good opportunity for all of us to perform and cement our place in the ODI squad. In Zimbabwe, the pitches usually assist seamers and we have a very good bowling line-up," he said.
Seamers Pankaj Singh, Ashok Dinda and Umesh Yadav, wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha and off spinner R Ashwin are the new faces.
‘No late night curfew on players’
After the pub brawl in West Indies that led to the BCCI slapping a show-cause notice on seven players of the World T20 squad, the manager in the Zimbabwe series GVK Ranga Raju said there are no special instructions from the Board to impose late night curfew on players. “We don't have any special instructions from BCCI.”