2019 World Cup: Time running out for Suresh Raina's comeback plans
Cricket is a game full of uncertainties, for you never know when someone's career is on the line. Especially if you are a cricketer in India and also a part of the national team, it's a bit of dangerous as well as a luxurious place to be at the same time.
You are celebrated by Indians all over the world if you perform to potential. But you are berated to the core if you flatter to deceive. Such is the life of a normal Indian cricketer. If a player is good enough to play under the pressure and can live up to the expectations of a billion people, than he can survive for a longer period.
Any batting position in India has always had immense competition. There has always been an invisible axe hanging over a player's head after just a few failures.
Suresh Raina, once a constant presence, is now struggling to find a place in the limited-overs teams. His ODI career started way back in 2005 against Sri Lanka when he was just 18 years old.
Raina started off well in his early days where he was surrounded by legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. The left-hander's resilient 81* against England in Faridabad shored his position in the middle order. He also added more to the team with his breathtaking fielding efforts.
Due to injury, Raina missed out on the 2007 World T20. However, he returned strongly in 2008 Asia Cup where his solid middle-order knocks cemented his place in the ODI team. The unbeaten 116 against Bangladesh was a memorable effort under considerable pressure.
Right throughout 2009, Raina kept honing his skills and became a permanent member and many expected him to embark on a long career. The flamboyant batsman's extravagant inside-out cover drives were a sight for sore eyes.
Raina made his Test debut with a brilliant century on a turning pitch in Sri Lanka at Colombo. He raised hopes of growing into a great Test batsman. Although his long-format career ended in disappointment, he continued to rise in stature by performing consistently in white-ball cricket. His magnificent 101* against South Africa lit up the 2010 World T20.
In the 2011 World Cup at home, Raina played two of the most important knocks of his career. His 34* against Australia was crucial in India qualifying to the semifinals. Amidst massive pressure, he produced a quickfire 36* against Pakistan to lift India's total in the end overs.
However, it all came crashing down as Raina had a terrible time in England in 2011. He failed to make any impact across all the formats. Against the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, the southpaw could not survive long at the crease.
He kept playing some useful knocks in the middle-order. The century against England in Cardiff in 2014 and the hundred against Zimbabwe in the 2015 World Cup raised hopes of recapturing his best form.
Raina's sudden decline in value was directly proportional to his IPL form. For a player who had always scored 400-plus runs in every edition of the IPL, he suddenly floundered when Chennai Super Kings got banned in 2015 and he had to move to Gujarat Lions.
With the Dhoni era gradually coming to an end, Raina's place in the team was no longer a certainty. And also with Virat Kohli preferring more consistency and less of experience from the players, it has become even more difficult for him to stage comebacks. To add to his woes, he has not been performing well in the domestic circuit either.
Considering the presence of the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav as well as many others performing well in the present setup, it is looking extremely difficult for Raina to make a comeback into the Indian team. At the moment, his chances of playing the 2019 World Cup are slim. But you never know because cricket is a glorious game of uncertainties.