Suresh Raina attends a practice session ahead of their fourth one-day international cricket match against the West Indies in Indore. Reuters Photo
After performing poorly in the whites, when Suresh Raina came back strongly in the blues during India’s disastrous outing in England everyone wondered what is it that turns him off when he switches from one-dayers to Test matches.
Was it a chink in technique or lack of confidence or just a poor approach?
Despite all his lacunas in the longer version of the game, Raina, the batsman, has thrived virtually every time he has taken the field for India in limited overs' format — be it the Twenty20s or the ODIs.
The left-handed batsman has mastered the art of batting at the pivotal No. 6 position in the batting order in one-dayers. More often than not, he has to emerge as a finisher, finding gaps and clearing the field consistently towards the end of the innings. And when the team loses quick wickets at the top, he has to rebuild the innings before going berserk towards the end.
Hence, it has been surprising that Raina, having fallen behind the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the race for a Test spot, has had three miserable outings, with a combined tally of seven runs in the current series against the West Indies.
No wonder then that hours after arriving in Indore for the fourth ODI on Tuesday, Raina headed straight to the Holkar Stadium and spent a good one hour in the nets, specifically working on sorting himself out when it came to facing the short ball.
After a soft dismissal for five in Cuttack, Raina’s weakness with the short ball was highlighted yet again in Visakhapatnam when the Uttar Pradesh batsman decided to take on Kemar Roach early in his innings, only managing to edge his ugly-looking attempt to hook to the wicketkeeper.
Not going his way
And as it happens many times in life, when things are not going your way, you tend to run out of luck, Raina was unfortunate to have been adjudged caught behind the wickets on Monday. When the Uttar Pradesh batsman took to the crease, India were reeling at 79 for four while chasing a target of 261. But after scoring a brace off the second ball he faced, he missed one from Ravi Rampaul that was sliding down. The ball kissed his thigh pad before resting in ‘keeper Denesh Ramdin’s gloves and umpire Tony Hill upheld the appeal.
With Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane waiting for an opportunity, Raina would be under pressure to come up with a trademark knock. However, skipper Virender Sehwag, who is himself struggling, backed the experienced campaigner.
“We aren’t overtly concerned with that (Raina's lacklustre run). He knows what to do, and these things happen when you play for a long time at the top level. I am sure that he’s just one innings away from a good knock. We aren’t worried about that,” Sehwag said after India’s defeat in Ahmedabad.