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Raina arrives on big stage in grand style

Patience pays, always. If not anything else, the adage certainly suited Suresh Raina's Test debut, which the southpaw made memorable by becoming the 12th Indian to record a century in his maiden Test.

cricket Updated: Jul 30, 2010 00:58 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Patience pays, always. If not anything else, the adage certainly suited Suresh Raina's Test debut, which the southpaw made memorable by becoming the 12th Indian to record a century in his maiden Test.

Even before raising his bat after hitting Dammika Prasad for a boundary through mid-off before lunch on Thursday, Raina had entered the record books on the opening day of the Test when Rahul Dravid handed him the coveted cap. With 98 ODI appearances, he has also played the most ODIs before making his Test debut.

When it came to making an impression with his first knock, Raina didn't disappoint. Coming on to bat on Wednesday, he couldn't have asked for a better situation to leave an impression on the biggest stage. The wicket was tailormade for batting, yet it was a challenge for the southpaw.

With India still more than 200 runs behind the follow-on mark, he needed to hang around with the reliable Sachin Tendulkar to save his team from the danger of conceding the three-match series with one match to go.

The stylish batsman, who got the opportunity thanks to a flu picked up by Yuvraj Singh on the eve of the match, rose to the occasion.

Till he hit one from Ajantha Mendis to Kumar Sangakkara at short midwicket to be dismissed for 120 half an hour after lunch on Thursday, Raina had not played a foul stroke during his 294-minute stint at the wicket.

"He showed tremendous character. Tremendous all-round game. He was solid in defence and played some magnificent shots. Left the ball well as well. I thought this particular innings was terrific because when he got in to bat, it was a tricky time," Tendulkar

said after the end of fourth day's play.

"A big partnership was needed at that stage and both of us were able to do something special. The way he batted, I thought, was fantastic. It didn't look like he was playing his first Test."

Raina's success has also created a selection conundrum for the team management ahead of the third Test, which starts on Tuesday. With Yuvraj knocking a few balls at the practice facility on Thursday, it would be interesting to see if he will make it back into the eleven for the last Test.

However, Raina has made a strong case for himself to be preferred over his senior southpaw.

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