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IPL 2017, GL vs DD: Pat Cummins ruthlessly exploiting Suresh Raina's short ball weakness is SK Play of the Day

Lions skipper left baffled by the game awareness of the Daredevils fast bowler.

Suresh Raina Pat Cummins
Raina was castled by a well-aimed delivery from Cummins

If there is one apparent chink in Suresh Raina’s armoury, it is his inability to handle the short delivery. Time and again, bowlers across the globe have capitalised on his weakness to send him packing. The sight of opposition skippers greeting him with close-in catchers to facilitate hostile stuff has become quite common for the left-hander.

In one such instance of trepidation overcoming his game, Raina paid the price for an indecisive piece of footwork during Gujarat Lions’ penultimate group game against Delhi Daredevils at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.

When confronted by the express pace of Australian seamer Pat Cummins, the thought of the impending short delivery encompassed his mind and left him vulnerable to the fuller delivery. Smartly acknowledging his opponent’s strategy, the fast bowler breached his defence by sending a well-directed ball towards the stumps.

The perfect set-up

On a tricky pitch, Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan won the toss and decided to bowl first. When it seemed like Gujarat were getting off to a strong start, serendipity provided the early breakthrough. Dwayne Smith’s lack of athleticism caught up with him as languid running between the wickets resulted in his downfall.

Skipper Raina walked out to the crease with the scoreboard reading 21/1. One of the most consistent batsmen through IPL history, the southpaw was earnestly looking forward to an impactful knock at the end of what was a dismal season for his team.

After testing his feet movement, Zaheer wasted no time in bringing Cummins into the attack to have a crack at his counterpart. The final over the Power Play began with opener Ishan Kishan getting off the strike. The right-arm pacer proceeded to have Raina in a tangle by delivering a back of a length ball. However, the left-hander was able to procure a single.

A mistimed attempt at a slog allowed Kishan to continue to rotate the strike. With his target back on strike, Cummins tried to push him back in the crease by unfurling a short delivery. But the surface did not have enough pace or bounce to make the ball rise anywhere near the vicinity of the batsman’s helmet. Instead, it went only as far as his shoulder.

Extra Cover: Suresh Raina and the short-ball conundrum

Well aware of the bowler’s thought-process, Raina used his crease to make enough room and lifted the ball past the inner-circle on the off-side. He earned his first boundary of the night. Expecting the short delivery yet again, he shuffled his position once more. Instead, this was much fuller than he would have anticipated. Despite his bid to go inside out, the 30-year-old could not react quickly to the change in length and found the stumps being clattered.

Raina had to walk back to the dressing room for a 5-ball 6. The idea to pull off a double bluff could have stemmed from the events of the previous season.

What happened last season

During the last IPL edition’s clash between the Lions and Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Raina had fallen into Zaheer’s wily trap. Setting a leg gully to prey on the left-hander’s short ball weakness, the veteran colluded with seamer Chris Morris and a plan was set in motion by the hosts. 

A precisely directed short ball was unleashed towards the batsman. Gujarat’s captain looked to jump across the crease to counter the steep bounce on offer. However, he could only find the safe hands of Karun Nair who had been placed for exactly that type of dismissal.

Reason behind his exclusion for Champions Trophy

Maybe the Indian selectors felt that his short-ball weakness could have rendered him unviable in English conditions when they decided against bringing Raina back into the ODI squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy.

Extra Cover: Suresh Raina is disappointed and hurt at not being picked for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017

Even though the exclusion was ‘disappointing’ and ‘painful’ for Raina who had been expecting a call-up, the reasoning could be justified. Perhaps getting back to the domestic circuit and working constantly on his issue against the bouncers as well as the ensuing double-bluff could be ideal for him at this stage of his career. Fret not, there is still time for him to resurrect his national 50-overs career.

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