Suresh Raina might play in the Sri Lanka ODI series
What's the story?
Left-handed batsman Suresh Raina might soon get another chance to represent India in international cricket in the ODI series of India's ongoing tour of Sri Lanka. He was present at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for fitness tests a few days ago, and that certainly points towards his potential inclusion in the soon-to-be announced limited overs squad for the series.
“Raina's an impact player who can help us win games with his big-hitting down the order. Since we have a heavy limited overs schedule later this season, we need to play him now. He could be a key player for us in the 2019 World Cup,“ an internal source told the Times of India.
MS Dhoni recently posted a picture of himself with his ODI teammate Kedar Jadhav and former Chennai Super Kings teammate Raina. It was post the NCA drills ahead of the ODI series and it clearly indicated that the left-hander being considered to send to Sri Lanka.
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Raina last played ODI cricket almost two years ago, in October 2015 against South Africa.
His last international stint was in T20I cricket in February this year, when India hosted England for a full-fledged tour.
The 30-year-old is a potential option that can solve India's Number 4-conundrum and he will look to make the batting position his own in Sri Lanka.
However, there has been stiff competition around the Indian middle order and captain Virat Kohli, with the team management, is still trying to find that perfect mix in his limited overs side.
Yuvraj Singh, who was also spotted at the NCA earlier this week, is currently batting two-down in the ODI playing XI. Manish Pandey, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane are already waiting in the wings for that middle-order spot, and Raina's name is now being thrown into the mix too.
India have to think big and concentrate on the ICC ODI World Cup that will be hosted by England in 2019. Kohli not only needs to have a steady playing XI ready, but also be completely clear with respect to his bench strength as well as his potential options in case of injuries to his core-team players.
Uttar Pradesh batsman Raina will try to make the most of this opportunity that has come to him quite unexpectedly.
While the selectors' decision to go back to Raina is a little unprecedented, it might not be a bad move to give him one more go at international cricket in this series.
Sri Lanka is a weakened team in the middle of a rebuilding process right now, and India can definitely afford to experiment a little against them - especially considering that the World Cup is not very far away.