'He did brilliantly in Jadeja's absence': Raina names 3 India youngsters who impress him, explains why Pant misses out
The current crop of youngsters in the Indian cricket team is immensely talented and former India batsman Suresh Raina is mighty impressed with some of the talented and young cricketers that the country has seen over the last one year. From Rishabh Pant to Mohammed Siraj, every player has made a mark and stamped their authority with impressive performances both at home and overseas. At present some of them are in England, readying for what promises to be a gruelling five-Test series, while another set is in Sri Lanka for three Tests and ODIs.
Some 15 years ago, Suresh Raina was at the same stage in his career. Having made his India debut in 2005, Raina's career got off to a blazing start before he established himself as one of the key middle-order batsmen for India. As the years passed, Raina grew in stature before injuries ousted him from the team and he eventually announced his international retirement on august 15 last year.
Currently basking in the success of the release of his biography, Believe, Raina is enjoying life away from the field for the time being, and in an interview with News24 Sports, spoke on a range of topics. Raina was asked to name players from the current India set-up that impress him, and the 34-year-old picked up some obvious and some not-so-obvious names.
"I think Devdutt Padikkal from Karnataka. After him, Ruturaj Gaikwad from Maharashtra. He is a gun player. Axar Patel has worked really hard, and he performed brilliantly well in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja," Raina said.
However, the one name that surprisingly eluded Raina's list was that of Rishabh Pant, who has been a different player altogether since his return to the Test team in the series against Australia last year, and here's the reason why. "See, he has entered the senior category. He's grown. He is also hitting fours now and not only sixes," he explained.
Besides, Raina also picked out Mohammed Siraj, and credited Rahul Dravid for his contribution towards Indian cricket. Dravid, as a former coach of India A and Under-19 teams has helped shape careers of some of Indian cricket's promising youngsters such as Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, and continues to work towards its development as NCA chief and currently coach of the Indian team in Sri Lanka. Raina wished the Indian team well ahead of their series and sent his best wishes to captain Shikhar Dhawan.
"Even Mohammed Siraj is bowling so well. And somewhere I feel credit goes to Rahul Dravid who has worked extremely hard with the Under-19 team which is why he is with the senior team now and my best wishes to Shikhar Dhawan, that he does well and return to the Test team because he too is a very big player for India and he must be hoping to perform well in Sri Lanka," Raina added.
Outside of the Indian team, Raina listed out names of some of the fringe players, who have produced consistent performances in both domestic cricket and the IPL. "Then definitely Priyam Garg from Uttar Pradesh. Karn Sharma is another player from Uttar Pradesh who has performed really well. From Punjab, there is Abhishek Sharma, who has impressed me a lot. Sachin Baby is also putting in a lot of hard-work," he added.