Suresh Raina – A heroic finisher
The start to the new season for the Indian cricket team has found various things for a common fan to gossip about – Rohit vs. Tiwary, Pathan’s comeback, Rahul Sharma and drugs and so on. But one man who hasn’t been spoken of much has played some terrific cricket and helped the team in both their victories.
In the first game in Hambantota, Raina smashed 50 in just 45 balls. More importantly, he was involved in a crucial partnership with MS Dhoni which added 79 in just 55 and took India to a very good score of 314. India eventually won by 21 runs.
In today’s match though, the pressure to chase a big total was on the Indians. Gambhir played a flashy and confident innings and seemed like the only one who could stop the Sri Lankans. Kohli and Dhoni were both involved in good partnerships with Gambhir but none of them looked like taking the game away. Suresh Raina replaced Rohit at the crease in the 36th over with 104 runs required from 88 balls. This was the last recognized batting pair.
Raina started slowly. His first boundary came four overs later – unfortunately though, Gambhir was out in the same over and the onus was on Raina to complete the quest. He answered. He continued picking singles and doubles before targeting the 44th over from Udana. In that over he clipped on off his pads and edged another one to the boundary. In the next over, he guided a perfect Malinga Yorker for four. Mathews wasn’t spared at the other end. His eight over went for 11 runs which included 2 boundaries from Raina. The shot of the match came in the next over when Raina bludgeoned a Malinga ball over long on for six. The shot also brought up his fifty in just 35 balls.
With the required rate in control, Raina didn’t go for any more big shots. He quietly rotated strike ad pinched two’s bringing the game down to the last over. Pathan eventually hit the winning shot and the pair ensured that they played their way right through the end.
Raina’s innings will give him a lot of confidence. He needed to chase runs quickly and he managed to do it with the help of some clever batting and terrific shot making. Malinga may have got important wickets of Dhoni and Sharma in successive balls but his problems against India seem to continue, especially against Raina. Raina has been phenomenal in recent times – chasing down targets well and lifting the good totals to better ones. Of course he has boosted the morale of the players in the field also. India will look up to Raina to take control in such situations in the following games.