Suresh Raina did his best to hide the disappointment at missing out on a hundred. He thought he had reached there as the scoreboard flashed it but it was later discovered that two of MS Dhoni’s runs were credited to Raina.
The 22-year-old left-hander will do well to remember Sunil Gavaskar, who has often said on television that it’s always better to score four or five runs more after reaching the hundred as the scorers cannot be always right.
Raina said on Thursday night after his man-of-the-match show that gave Chennai Super Kings an emphatic win over Rajasthan Royals: “I was looking at the scoreboard that flashed 100. But when I went to the dressing room, I learnt that I was only 98. But that’s ok. It doesn’t matter. What is important is we won the game.”
Raina has been a vital cog in the batting line-up, be it for India in limited-overs or Super Kings, not to forget his Uttar Pradesh and Central Zone in domestic competition.
Since his return to international cricket in Dhaka last June, Raina has become a vital member of the Indian middle order, making himself flexible at any position between numbers three and six depending on the team's requirements.
Chairman of selectors K. Srikkanth, who is also Chennai Super Kings’ brand ambassador, was immensely pleased with Raina’s 55-ball 98 against Royals and also his growth in the ODIs.
“I liked the way he played last night,” Srikkanth told HT here on Friday before leaving for India. “The way he paced his innings was fantastic. Raina showed that batting was all about playing full 20 overs and at the same time being in the attacking mode.”
Raina has made number three his own with CSK. “He has been very consistent at number three. Add to it that he is a brilliant fielder and is becoming more effective with his off-spin.”
Srikkanth said that with Raina joining the line-up of Sehwag and Yuvraj, India’s batting line up has become stronger and can be a deadly force in the years to come.
“He has been consistently doing well for India for the last one year and that is a very good sign for us,” said Srikkanth.
Raina himself has assumed more responsibility in his batting. “Working with Gary (Kirsten, the India coach) and Robin (Singh, the India fielding coach), and learning from the likes of Sachin Tendulkar has given my career a good momentum. I want to get on with it,” Raina said.
He has shown a marked improvement with the bat. Also, the left-hander has been enjoying the support of his captain M. S. Dhoni, who is also his best pal. This has allowed him to play freely.
Besides being a top-class fielder, Raina’s all-round abilities have finally cemented his place in the Indian