Suresh Raina - 6 Top notch knocks in ODIs
#6 India vs Zimbabwe, Eden Park, Auckland, 2015 WC, 110*
This has to be one of the top Raina knocks as it came in a World Cup and against a team that was threatening to take the game away from India. Zimbabwe batted first in Eden Park, Auckland and not many people expected Zimbabwe to challenge India in a high-profile game like the WC. But Zimbabwe defied all odds to post a challenging 287, thanks to an enterprising 138 off just 110 deliveries from their skipper Brendan Taylor. Even after being set a target of 288 for victory, India was expected to get there without much fuss, considering the experienced batting lineup of India.
But Indian fans were in for a rude shock as wickets tumbled at regular intervals. The two openers, Rohit and Dhawan were back to the hut in no time, and it was left to Kohli and Rahane to steady the ship. At 21/2, the duo combined to form a useful 50 run partnership but the successive wickets of Rahane and Kohli brought Zimbabwe right back in the contest. At 91/4, India was in all sorts of trouble as only Raina and Dhoni were left as regular batsmen.
Then the magic happened. The duo, already having a great understanding, thanks to the fruitful CSK association, milked singles and twos with the odd boundary here and there. The target was slowly getting to a manageable level as they brought up the century partnership, much to the delight of Indian fans.
Raina was fantastic in his approach, as he scored a fine hundred in that game. His undefeated 110 came off just 104 deliveries, thanks to the nine boundaries and four big ones into the crowd. If not for Raina's masterclass, an Indian defeat was imminent as not much batting was left after the magical duo. Dhoni too was in his destructive best, as he scored a fine 85* off just 76 deliveries, with eight fours and two sixes. Eight fours and two sixes will always remain in the minds of every Indian fan as this was the exact number of boundaries that Dhoni hit when he played that iconic innings in the 2011 WC final against Sri Lanka.
Raina and Dhoni had put on a fabulous 196 run stand for the fifth wicket as India cruised home safely. This innings of Suresh Raina was particularly important as it eased the early jitters in the dressing room. It not only came as a saviour in that Zimbabwe game, but it also made Indian fans believe that India had reliable hands in the form of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni in the middle order, going forward in the WC.
It is always important that a team gets equal contributions from every single player in a tournament like the World Cup. And the fact that Raina's masterly century came when India was in all sorts of trouble, shows Raina's mental strength and his ability to deliver in crunch situations for whichever team he played. He was awarded the Player of the Match in that game, as Indian fans felt relieved that they could bank upon a reliable Suresh Raina in the middle order.
This was one of the five tons that Raina has scored in his career, and truly one of the amazing knocks played by him in ODI cricket.