Suresh Raina - The catalyst of Indian cricket
Before writing this article on Suresh Raina, I was wondering what title would I think him. There is no better word to describe Raina than “The Catalyst”. He is the catalyst that accelerates the Indian run rate when the team is in need of quick runs, and when you need an inspiration in the field, the man you look up to is Suresh Raina. So there is no better word to describe this man.
Suresh Raina was awarded the Border-Gavaskar scholarship to train at the Australian Cricket Academy and in 2005, on the back of a good performance in the first class limited overs, he was selected for the Challenger Trophy the same year. Suresh Raina was then called up for the Indian Cricket Team owing to suspension of captain Sourav Ganguly. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a good debut. He was dismissed for a duck by the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan in his debut match. He just managed to score 37 runs in the whole tournament. Bu since then, Raina has been showing great potential as a batsman and he almost stamped his authority as one of the best fielder in the side. Till 2008, Raina had been in and out of the side due to his consistent performance and a share of fate turned the tide against him. Raina had the motivation to work hard and come back stronger into the side each time he got dropped.
The big break for Raina came in 2008 after he had a successful IPL season. He really stamped his authority as a destructive batsman with the kind of performance he showcased in the IPL that season. In the inaugral season, he accumulated 421 runs in 16 matches at an average of 38 and strike rate of 142.22. After that he clawed back into the Indian Team when Sachin Tendulkar was rested for the series against Bangladesh. In 2008 Asia cup, he scored his maiden hundred against Hong Kong. In the tournament he secured three man of the match awards with strong performances against Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even though India ended up on the losing side in the finals, mainly due to the arrival of the mystery bowler Ajanta Mendis, Suresh Raina became a main member of the side and when the team needed him, he delivered. Raina grew in stature and became Captain MS Dhoni‘s trusted soldier. He earned the trust of the captain with his consistent performances and he was a real live-wire in the field.
In 2010, there was another feather added in his cap when he was selected to captain the side in a triangular series against Srilanka and Zimbabwe. India did not make it to the finals but the world got to witness the leadership skills of this youngster. Raina then got selected to the Indian test side for the vacant spot of Saurav Ganguly, helped by illness to Yuvraj Singh. He impressed on his debut as he went on score a hundred. Even when Yuvraj recovered, Raina was preferred. But owing to successive failures in 2010-2011, Raina lost his test spot and was replaced by Cheteshwar Pujara but even then he continued in the limited overs side. After four successful seasons with Chennai Super Kings, he became an integral part of the side as he made the T20 format his very own.
The best moment for Raina came when India won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. He missed the first half of the tournament but in the later phases, Raina was extremely crucial for India winning the important matches against Australia and Pakistan. He impressed with the bat, finishing games and adding quick runs and also was impressive on the field, saving a bucketful runs and taking some splendid catches.
Raina is also the proud owner of a rare feat, he is the only Indian to score hundreds in all the three formats of the game. Raina shows relentless aggression in his batting and fielding. Raina in the field shows great commitment, the quality which you don’t get to find in many Indian fielders. Raina would go down as one of the better fielders India has ever produced and would feature in the ranks of Azharuddin, Robin Singh. I can proudly say that Suresh Raina is the Jhonty Rhodes of Indian Cricket.