Suresh Raina speaks on his possible comeback into the national side, India's middle-order woes and takes a call on MS Dhoni's future
- Suresh Raina feels that a good season of IPL could enable him to feature for India in the T20 World Cup later this year.
Veteran Indian middle-order batsman Suresh Raina has explained how he could play in the T20 World Cup by having a good IPL 2020 campaign. The Uttar Pradesh-born cricketer, who is currently training in Chepauk along with Ambati Rayudu as a part of the Chennai Super Kings' training session, also spoke on India's middle-order woes, his possible comeback into the national side, and MS Dhoni's possible international return.
Raina suffered a knee injury during the business-end of IPL 2019. After a successful knee surgery in August last year, the 33-year-old southpaw has expressed his hopes to have a good run in IPL 2020, envisioning a return to the Indian cricket team for the T20 World Cup slated to be held in Australia later this year.
Also see – IPL 2020 schedule
In an exclusive interview with Times of India, Raina made it clear how his form in the IPL could make way for a return to the national set-up.
"It is too early right now. I have always enjoyed my cricket, irrespective of where I play. I have not set any target right now. If I am able to do well in the IPL, I will be able to understand how I am shaping up. I have played enough to know what the situation demands. So my T20 World Cup hopes depend on my performance in the IPL. If I can make my knee strong and have a good IPL, then I know that I have another 2-3 years of cricket left in me. There are two back-to-back World Cups. I have done well in T20 cricket."
The first Indian to score a century in T20Is, Raina was recalled in India's T20I squad against South Africa. He had a decent outing for India, who won the three-match series by a 2-1 margin. Raina couldn't claim a regular spot for India in the limited-overs cricket, as he last played for the side back in July 2018 versus England. When quizzed if he could feature in the middle-order for India yet again, Raina said:
"Definitely. But if I want to play, I need to perform. The IPL is the best platform to get into the team especially when you are talking about the T20 World Cup. Everyone knows what sort of a player I am."
India's middle-order woes need to get fixed; Shreyas Iyer has emerged as a potential number 4 batsman in the limited-overs format. However, the likes of Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant have been tested at regular intervals as well.
To avoid the inconsistency of the middle-order line-up, Raina suggested that skipper Virat Kohli must remain persistent with the youngsters and should give them regular chances in the long run.
"The support of the captain and team management will definitely solve this middle-order drama. You can’t expect (Shreyas) Iyer and (Rishabh) Pant to score big runs in every game. You have to give them the assurance that they will not be dropped. Iyer is very good at No. 4. I am sure Pant too will make a lot of difference because he is a left-hander. So I am sure they will give youngsters the right advice."
Raina also added that the team management must back youngsters for them to prove themselves on such platforms, recalling the days when the likes of Rahul Dravid and Dhoni gave him a lot of opportunities.
"For any newcomer, it is important to get a lot of opportunities I was lucky to play under Rahul Dravid when I came in. He gave me a lot of opportunities. Then I played under MS Dhoni who understood my game. When Rohit (Sharma) and Virat (Kohli) get out, there is so much pressure on the middle-order. You face different situations all then time when you are playing in these slots. I used to believe in myself. The skipper too has an important role to play."
Former Indian captain Dhoni has not featured in any competitive cricket since the semi-final loss against New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup. Dhoni's close companion, Raina, took a call on the former skipper's future by depicting that the Indian team still needs his services. However, he mentioned that it is up to Kohli to take the call regarding Dhoni's future.
"Dhoni will probably be coming to Chennai in the first week of the IPL. Right now, it is so good to see him spending a lot of time with his family. If he wants to leave the game, he will go out without making a big fuss. I want to see him continue to play. He is looking fit and has been training hard. I still think the Indian team needs him. But it is Virat’s call on how they go forward."Published 25 Jan 2020, 11:21 IST