Suresh Raina may have fallen in the pecking order for India but his midnight act for Gujarat Lions at Eden Gardens was another example of how this Indian Premier League (IPL) star is using the 10th edition to try and regain his place in the national side.
Raina’s 46-ball 84 against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had all the ingredients of what he is known for. Making the most of a great start, he anchored the formidable chase mixing aggression with caution and staying almost till the winning run was scored.
And he was useful with the ball as well, dismissing Sunil Narine when the Knight was threatening to run away with the game.
“Raina bowled two fantastic overs, one wicket and ten runs..in the power play,” said Sitanshu Kotak, the Gujarat Lions’ assistant-coach.
Granted conditions will be markedly different in England but with the Champions Trophy around the corner, Raina sure is making all the right noises. In IPL 10, Raina has scored 243 runs in six matches including two fifties.
Love for KKR bowling
Raina’s love for the Knights’ bowling goes back to 2009 when he struck a 36-ball 52 at Centurion for Chennai Super Kings. Next year, at Eden he made an unbeaten 78 (39 balls, 11x4, 3x6). In the IPL final in 2012, he took to Narine and Co and scored 73 (38 balls, 3x4, 5x6). In 2014, Raina hit a 62-ball 109 in the Champions League final with six fours and eight sixes.
When he moved to Gujarat Lions last year, Raina took the good vibes with him. His 53 in Rajkot helped them do the double against KKR in 2016. This season too, Raina scored 68 in Rajkot before ensuring full points on Friday.
“He is a good all-round player. I don’t think we bowled as well to him as we could have done and should have done. When good players get off to a good start, it’s difficult to contain them on these type of wickets. Raina played really well to hold the innings together,” said KKR head coach Jacques Kallis.
Raina last featured in an ODI in October 2015. To make matters worse, he was excluded from the central contracts list at the start of the year. He has been accused of lacking focus but based on his performances so far, maybe Raina 2.0 is ready for take-off.