Has road to the World Cup 2019 ended for Suresh Raina?
BCCI announced the 16-member squad for the Asia Cup 2018 last week and the biggest exclusion was of Suresh Raina. With approximately nine months to go for the World Cup 2019, every team selection reignites the speculations of the probable squad of 15 for the World Cup.
BCCI has made changes with some inclusions and exclusions, but out of all, the exclusion of Raina has flummoxed the most.
Raina is a seasoned campaigner and has the experience of more than 300 International matches. He is one of the most experienced players in the side, along with MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. His partnerships with MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have won numerous games for India.
This southpaw is world-known for his stroke play and possesses the ability to blast off the opposition on his day.
He is a prolific run-scorer in the limited overs format. In his formative years, his adaptive ability with varied stroke play established him as a dependable middle-order batsman in the Indian batting line up. He has a rare ability to play big strokes in tough and pressure situations.
In his career, he averages 35.31 in 226 ODIs and has scored 5615 runs. While batting at 4, he averages 45 in 20 games and has scored 645 runs at a strike rate of 98.97.
Performances in previous World Cups
His scores of 34 against Australia in the quarter-final and 36 against Pakistan in the semi-final helped India lift the World Cup 2011.
He once again performed well in the World Cup 2015. He delivered match winning performances of 74 and 104 against Pakistan and Zimbabwe while batting in the middle-order.
Utility as a player and record in England
In 13 innings while batting in England, he has scored 422 runs at an average of 35.16 with one century and one-half century to his name.
In addition to his batting prowess in limited overs cricket, he is a phenomenal fielder. Probably the best and the most complete fielder India has produced to this day.
He also has a knack for providing crucial breakthroughs in the hour of need.
Recent return in the National side
He was dropped from the national side after failing the Yo-Yo test. However, he made a promising return to the side.
In the rare chances that he got, he starred in India T20 series win in South Africa and won the 'Man Of the Match' award in the final, and also contributed significantly in India's win in Nidahas trophy.
In the T20 series against Ireland, he scored 69 in the second game in Dublin. Suresh Raina was the part of all the three ODIs against England. However, he only got the chance to bat in two ODIs. He could only manage the scores of 46 and 1 in his two innings.
The Possibility of a return in available chances
Suresh Raina is the most experienced middle-order batsman after MS Dhoni at present. With not much cricket left(13 ODIs only after Asia Cup), not considering him for the tournament can possibly mean the end of the road to the World Cup 2019 for the southpaw.
National selectors have been in the hunt for an ideal player to bat at 4 for long. And, now after rendering chances to Rayudu, who is making his return after 2016, and with the inclusion of Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey in the squad, the board seems to have put an end to the tryouts before the World Cup 2019.
West Indies is touring India soon after the Asia Cup. India is scheduled to play 5 ODIs against Windies on the tour. India would then travel to Australia and New Zealand at the start of next year to play three and five ODIs respectively.
If he gets reconsidered for the remainder ODIs, he will have a strong chance to cement his place in the World Cup squad.
His experience can be a much-needed addition to the team's arsenal when most of the players are relatively young. If needed, he can also bat at No.6, in case Kedar Jadhav gets tried out at the No.4.
Moreover, his exceptional fielding skills and ability to provide breakthroughs in a much needed time gives him an edge over every other counterpart.