Suresh Raina's fighting spirit will win him a place in the 2019 World Cup squad
India won a bilateral Twenty20 International series in South Africa for the first times ever and unlike the ODI series, where the success story related a dominant India, in the shortest format it was a story of fighting India.
But that’s not the story we are talking about. There was a man in the squad determined to establish his spot in the squad. He had only three T20I matches in his hand to prove that he is still the best in business and he did exactly that with a Man of the Match performance in the decider of the series.
Yes, the man in question is Suresh Raina, who was posting pictures on social media to show that he is not sitting idle but working hard to regain the lost spot in the national squad.
He himself did not understand why he was ignored by the selectors after scoring a 45-ball 63 against England in early 2017. Raina himself has sounded his disappointment for being dropped after a good individual contribution.
Later with fitness becoming the criteria for selection, Raina focused on building his fitness level and finally ticked all the boxes in the Yo Yo test to knock at the Indian door again and the call came for the T20 series against South Africa.
Virat Kohli surprised everyone by offering his No. 3 slot to the comeback man, where he scored a quickfire 15 in the first match and followed it up with a 31 off 24 balls. It was a positive progress and the decider saw him score 43 off 27 balls and also a claim a wicket to be judged the Man of the Match.
What the youngsters did not do, Raina did it in style as he grabbed the opportunity with determination and also sounded out that he will not stop until he makes the 2019 World Cup squad.
Will the selectors give him the chance to represent India in the ODI series during the England tour? He can make the squad but needs to impress everyone with his performance in the forthcoming T20 International tri-series in Sri Lanka and the Indian Premier League that follows.
Raina’s all-round skills will be closely followed by the selectors and if he passes the test there is no doubt that he will be on the flight to England. The ODI series will also be a testing ground for Raina, whose dream of playing the next World Cup could be decided on the grounds of the World Cup hosts.
Suresh Raina at 31 will not have many more chances of playing in an ODI World Cup. Now the summer series in England (if he is part of the ODI series) will spell out his future and the likelihood of playing the next World Cup in England and Wales.