What would Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan have thought when the opposition captain Suresh Raina was batting? Facing a quick Chris Morris, Zaheer immediately called for a leg-slip.
Having played for many years alongside Raina in the Indian team, Zaheer was aware of the left-hander’s short-ball problem. Zaheer has been taking quality decisions on the field for Delhi and on Wednesday, even Raina would agree with that assessment.
Raina walked in at the fall of opener Dwayne Smith with the Gujarat Lions score at 112 in 10.4 overs. After such a prolific start, a batsman of Raina’s calibre should have exuberated confidence but sadly, the short-ball problem has become a bane for him.
As soon as he comes to bat, skippers usually bring their quick bowlers and ask them to bang it short. Zaheer, too tried the same thing. A couple of deliveries before Morris claimed his wicket, Raina had hopped in the crease and defended the ball. That triggered an idea in Zaheer’s mind and he stationed Karun Nair at a wide-ish leg-slip.
Raina has been unable to overcome this technical flaw in his batting and it haunted him more during last year’s India-South Africa ODI series. In more than six months, he has gotten out five times in such fashion.
At Indore in October 2015, Raina hopped and moved across to deal with Morne Morkel’s quick short-pitched delivery and could only glove it back. Then in the final ODI at Mumbai, Raina’s leg-stump was exposed as Rabada fired in pacey short-pitched deliveries before castling him with a yorker.
At the World T20 last month, Raina was castled by Pakistan seamer Mohammed Sami when he jumped in the crease and played on. Later against Australia, Watson’s short-pitched delivery once again claimed Raina as he moved across and got a glove.
While Raina has made effort in ironing out this flaw it seems the problem lies with his indecisiveness. There are times when he executes the pull really well but at times he is double minded, whether to leave the ball or play at it.
Against Mumbai Indians in this edition of the IPL, Mitchell McClenaghan did not waste much time before firing in short-pitched deliveries. One such delivery caught him in two minds and he ended up picking a wrong delivery and scooped it high in the air.
Once Brendon McCullum departed, it was on Raina to take the momentum forward. But it seems Raina has become an easy victim these days for sides with quality pacers.