At a time when all and sundry are criticising the young Indian batsmen, somewhere at the bottom of his heart, Suresh Raina must be thanking them.
Ever since the tri-series — and with the dismal run of the foursome of Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja with the willow — began on August 10, the failure of these four youngsters has overshadowed Raina’s.
In fact, his string of poor performances is getting longer and longer. When the southpaw arrived in Dambulla for the tri-series on the back of a Test century on debut, followed by a cameo that helped India level the series, the last thing on his mind must have been to keep his mediocre run in one-dayers going.
The talented batsman last raised his bat in one-dayers more than six months ago. Since his 58 against South Africa on February 21, the once-reliable batsman has failed to score a fifty in 13 innings. Four of those were during the tri-series in Zimbabwe against a depleted Sri Lanka and the struggling hosts, where Raina neither came good with the bat nor did he impress with captaincy.
His sensational Test debut had raised hopes of Raina turning the tide in the shorter version during the tri-series. But the Uttar Pradesh batsman has been unable to keep his Test form going with the ball moving around.
In all four of India’s league games, Raina had enough time to get his eye in and then start playing his strokes. But, barring his 56-minute stay at the wicket during India’s victory against Sri Lanka, he perished even before playing himself in.
Naturally, the team management is slightly concerned; a fact that was reflected in the skipper taking Raina for a brief ‘walk and talk’ session during India’s practice.
“We try to keep it simple. If you look worried about something then the players will also be worried,” Dhoni said. “We know that you regain form in one innings and lose it in two.”
Though most of the batsmen from all the three teams have struggled to cope with the conditions, Raina’s inability to adapt underlines the fact that he has a long way to go to establish himself as a top-class player.