Suresh Raina impresses with 50-ball 56 for Uttar Pradesh in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021

Suresh Raina started the tournament with a half-century
Suresh Raina started the tournament with a half-century
Wasiq Agha

Suresh Raina returned to competitive action for the first time in 18 months as he notched up an outstanding half-century against Punjab in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The stylish left-hander scored 56* in 50 balls, as he started the competition in roaring fashion.

However, Suresh Raina’s effort wasn’t enough to guide Uttar Pradesh to victory. The team couldn’t chase down Punjab’s target of 135, as they lost by 11 runs despite their captain's knock.

Suresh Raina came into bat at his usual No.3 spot and straight away got going as he raced to 19 off 14 balls. The experienced batsman stitched up a solid partnership with Dhruv Jurel, as the duo put up 39 runs for the 2nd wicket.

Although Suresh Raina slowed down during the middle overs, he picked up his strike rate later. The 34-year-old reached his half-century off 48 balls. Notably, the southpaw clobbered a six towards square leg to bring up his 50.

Despite not playing competitive cricket for more than a year, Suresh Raina was at his trademark best. The batsman hit 3 sixes and 2 fours throughout his unbeaten 56*.

But Suresh Raina’s classy effort went in vain, as the batsman couldn’t guide his side to victory. The Uttar Pradesh side were left with too much to do in the final few overs. Although Suresh Raina accelerated, he kept losing partners at the other end in the final stages. 

Suresh Raina to feature in IPL 2021

Raina last played for CSK in 2019
Raina last played for CSK in 2019

Suresh Raina’s strong start to Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will bode well for Chennai Super Kings. Raina did not play last year’s edition after leaving UAE in controversial circumstances.

The IPL side never managed to replace him and struggled in his absence as MS Dhoni’s men failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in their history. Speaking to Mumbai Mirror ahead of IPL 2021, a top CSK official confirmed that Suresh Raina will be part of the franchise this year. With IPL teams allowed to submit names of retained players till January 21, Suresh Raina's performances will be keenly looked at by the CSK management.

With Suresh Raina notching up a half-century in his first game back, it remains to be seen how the batsman performs in the upcoming games. The batsman will look to use the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as a springboard ahead of IPL 2021, as he looks to extend his glittering career as one of the most successful players of the tournament. 

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Edited by Prasen Moudgal
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