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It looked as if the Test series had returned in color clothing and white ball at the picturesque Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Wednesday. James Anderson was repeatedly beating the outside edge. India were two down for 19 by the eighth over. And Virat Kohli was out for a duck.
This was after Alastair had called the coin correctly and decided to bowl. A logical decision since India’s batting was going through a crisis of confidence. And even if there was turnaround and India did manage to string together a decent target, the expected afternoon rain would bring Duckworth-Lewis into play. A little sensible batting, and the hosts would be comfortably home.
Only, before the rain, Raina arrived. Big time. Without any previous warning.
Suresh Raina’s name on the team sheet this morning must have raised a few eyebrows. As recently as seven months ago, the left-hander was dropped from the playing XI after struggling in the rather alien conditions of New Zealand. Then, for the Asia Cup in the familiar environs of Bangladesh, he was dropped from the squad altogether.
He did come back for a three-match bilateral series versus Bangladesh in June, but perhaps only because many top stars chose to skip it. Then in England, in the practice match versus Middlesex at Lord’s last week, Raina came on to bat at No.11. Well after the man who edged him out of the XI, Ambati Rayudu, retired out after making 72.
At any rate, in the countries where the ball bounces, swings or seams — country’s such as England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand — his batting record has been dismal: an average of 29 in 38 matches before Wednesday. But even more than that what makes him an unlikely starter is that Raina doesn’t look the guy who will see you through when the ball is moving in the air or off the seam the way someone like, say, Rayudu looks. The point is, because of his suspect technique, his place is more open to question than many of his peers’.
However, after an explosive, counterattacking 75-ball 100 against England in the second One-Day International, a ton that led India to 304-6 and laid the foundations of an massive 133-run victory (D/L), Raina ensured his position in the team won’t come under scrutiny for a while —even if it’s not a very long while.
To be certain, Raina’s had his share