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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Suresh Raina puts poor form, fitness issues behind to earn India recall

Suresh Raina is set to make a comeback to the Indian cricket team after being selected in the squad for the T20 series against South Africa

cricket Updated: Jan 29, 2018 11:46 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Suresh Raina, recalled for T20 series against South Africa, hasn’t played in any format for India since February last year.
Suresh Raina, recalled for T20 series against South Africa, hasn’t played in any format for India since February last year.(PTI)

After failing in the ‘Yo-Yo’ test before the start of the new domestic season last September, Suresh Raina always looked desperate in his batting in domestic matches. Barring a half-century against India Red in the Duleep Trophy match in Lucknow, the India Blue skipper had some torrid time with the willow.

His poor form continued even when he got the chance to lead Uttar Pradesh for a full season of Ranji Trophy. He could score just 105 runs with 33 being his best in as many as nine innings in five matches at an average of 11.66.

Things looked almost difficult for the 31-year-old left-hander to stage a comeback in the side but Raina did not lose hope and kept working hard on his batting and fitness. His success in passing the ‘Yo-Yo’ test before the start of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Trophy boosted his confidence. He did his best to draw the attention of selectors.

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“It was all belief and hard work. I never lost my confidence and kept working hard on my fitness as well as skills. I was always focused on my game and was waiting for some good opportunities,” said Raina on Sunday.

Despite not excelling with the willow in as many as five matches of his favourite T20 games at Raipur in the central zone leg, where he scored 13, 1, 26, 2 and 13, Raina transformed himself into his old touch in the Super League at Kolkata. He went on score an unbeaten 126 of 49 balls against Bengal, 61 against Tamil Nadu in the second match, 56 against Baroda before finishing the season with 16 against Delhi in the last match.

“I need just one good going and I know it will come my way soon. I am raring to go for some good hitting in the middle,” Raina had said before the start of the T20 matches early this month.

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One of the top most batsmen in the shortest version of the game in the world, Raina, who has so far scored over 7,000 runs in 268 matches, had smashed 63 in India’s series-clinching 75-run win over England at Bengaluru in February last year. Since then he was sidelined from Team India, especially after failing the mandatory ‘Yo-Yo’ test.

Selection in Team India for the upcoming three-match series in South Africa gives Raina yet another chance to sport the Blue jersey for a few more years. People around him are quite excited to see him playing match-winning knocks for the Virat Kohli-led side. India will play three T20s against South Africa with the series starting on February 18.

Raina, who would soon be going to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) for fitness sessions before the South Africa series, is unlikely to play for Uttar Pradesh in the forthcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day, starting February 5. “Let’s see what happens at the NCA, and only then I will take a call on the Hazare Trophy matches,” he said.

First Published: Jan 29, 2018 11:45 IST

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