Suresh Raina represents the new age Indian cricketer. An attacking left-hander who goes for the big shots with impunity and clears the field with a swashbuckling flourish when at the top of his game, Raina is also equally capable of attracting applause as an electric fielder in the circle. All of this, though, is tempered with an iffy technique against the short ball, which has been mercilessly exposed in Test cricket.
It took him five years to cement his place as an India regular, moving from a limited-overs specialist who played 98 ODIs to one who became the 12th Indian to make a Test century on debut. Raina made his Test debut in Sri Lanka as a replacement for injured team-mate Yuvraj Singh, who, like Raina, was a left-hander, a dasher, and in the early 2000s, India's most athletic fielder. For a while it seemed Raina might have earned a long-term Test spot, but in England in 2011 his lack of skill against pace, seam and swing again opened up debates about his ability to be a consistent Test player for India.
In the shorter versions, though, there're no doubts about his talent. The ability to split the field and discover gaps where fielders could not be placed earned him high praise when he first burst through to play for India in December 2006. The early years, however, weren't so prolific, which led to his omission from the 2007 World Cup. He forced his way back with a mountain of runs in domestic cricket, and from June 2008 was prolific in ODIs too, enhancing his stature as one of India's responsible gen-next batsmen. Also helping his cause were three supremely successful seasons for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and in the Champions League. He was one of the four players retained by the franchise for the 2011 season.
His tenacity at the worst of times is typical of someone who has spent his teenage years living away from home in the demanding world of the Uttar Pradesh sports hostel, where a lack of facilities or grooming produces cricketers who must match talent with determination. At the under-19 level, Raina was prodigious with his run-scoring and a string of double-hundreds took him to the Indian junior team and beyond it, to India colours. For a player of his ability, though, India must hope that Raina's best innings are still to be played. Sharda Ugra Read More