ICC World Cup: The importance of Suresh Raina in Team India
He is the busy bee around the infield, chirping encouragements from slip, running to congratulate the bowlers and the fielders at all times, and generally the glue that binds the team together
Melbourne: There are never any airs about Suresh Raina. In a team full of stars — and he is certainly one of them, especially when he dons coloured clothing — he has always put the team ahead of himself. He is the busy bee that buzzes around the infield, chirping encouragements from slip, running to congratulate the bowlers and the fielders at all times, and generally the glue that binds the team together.
Suresh Raina en route his 57-ball 65 against Bangladesh yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
He is only the fourth highest scoring Indian batsman in CWC 2015, after Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, but he has delivered three crucial innings for India in this campaign so far.
In the opening game against Pakistan, as Kohli was setting the innings up, Raina provided the impetus it needed by blasting 74 off 56 deliveries. Against Zimbabwe, in the last match of the first round, he delivered a century to keep India's record clean and in the quarter-final against Bangladesh, he seized the initiative, yet again, with his 65 runs.
Indian captain praised the role that Raina played in India setting up a massive total that proved to be way beyond Bangladesh's capabilities. "We all know Raina is a natural stroke-maker. More often than not... he's been going in and he strikes quite early, so it's always good to have somebody like him batting at No 5."
'Batting spots don't matter'
Raina has been up and down the order, as and when the team has required it, and trying to do his best without a worry about his own scores. Ahead of the game, he stated how clear he was in his thinking about the batting spots he is sent in. "Whatever the team needs me to do, I need to prepare myself because at the end the day, if Team India wins that's what important than your four, five or six, whatever it is. You need to give your best shot."
India were in a bit of a bother at 115-3 after 28 overs. The Bangladeshi bowlers had quite a grip on the Indians, bowling with discipline and not providing any easy boundary balls.
In partnership with Rohit that lasted 95 deliveries, Raina turned the game around, and Dhoni concurred. "I think how (Raina and Rohit) took the game forward was very crucial because one more wicket at that point of time and we could have ended up maybe closer to 250 runs (instead of the 300-plus total)."
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza also agreed with Dhoni that it was the period after Raina came that India ran away with the game. "We always knew that they'll come hard after 35 overs. They have been brilliant after 35. They took calculated risk, and they've had success." India would hope Raina continues to be the straw that stirs the drink for two more matches.