India in Bangladesh 2014

Time for Raina to harvest his ODI knowledge

The lower profile of the India-Bangladesh series does not dilute the challenges ahead of Suresh Raina - trying to balance the demands of captaincy while reviving his ODI form

Alagappan Muthu in Dhaka

June 13, 2014

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A
Muthu: A World Cup audition for senior players

Dhaka's bustle is loud, vibrant and distracting. The city refuses to quieten down even on holiday but there is a semblance of calm inside the Shere Bangla Stadium. And even here, there isn't much evidence that a one-day series between Bangladesh and India is on the horizon. Football has usurped the viewership.

Every second bus pits Lionel Messi against Neymar, electronics shops proclaim World Cup-themed discounts and tea shops host animated arguments over which team will emerge the last one standing in Rio. The streets are awash with Brazil and Argentina flags, some as large as 15 feet across.

Suresh Raina might well wonder about the visibility he could gain in his third stint as India captain. Interest among broadcasters has also been low, so much so that the series might not be on television in India. Perhaps the low profile might help him tackle the challenges ahead: a national comeback, as captain, in a three-match series where one off-day could trigger the walls to close in.

India, however, are favourites. The hosts' potential cannot be discounted, but recent history paints them in unflattering light. Since their 3-0 humiliation of New Zealand in 2013, Bangladesh's only victories in any format have come against Afghanistan and Nepal in the World T20. In the last six months, their captain has questioned the commitment of his men, the side has been strapped with new team management and a battle against corruption is also visible on the periphery. So a series win - should it transpire - might not fetch as many gold stars for Raina. On the other hand, defeat could cripple his portfolio. The classic lose-lose situation.

For the third-time running, Raina has been tasked to lead a depleted India side. Eight first-choice picks have been rested to gauge the pool available for the 2015 World Cup. One-fifth of the squad is uncapped - Kedar Jadhav, Akshar Patel and Parvez Rasool. Manoj Tiwary and international cricket will exchange pleasantries after two years' silence. Cheteshwar Pujara has largely been untested in limited-overs surrounds. And the bowling has the potential to tempt another Indian captain to say he believed they could concede 10 runs an over. Everything from the batting order to team strategy will need a rehash.

Suresh Raina plays a one-legged pull, India v Pakistan, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur, March 21, 2014
Patchy form kept Suresh Raina out of India's last ODI assignment, the Asia Cup in March © ICC

Raina has welcomed his responsibility as an honour. He has been part of a sound set-up for a good chunk of his ODI career and this series demands he harvest the knowledge gained. He will need to find a Virat Kohli among his batsmen to set up the game. Then he will need to find someone to fill in for MS Dhoni and finish the game. He need not look further than himself to bridge both roles at No.4. Raina has documented a thirst to bat up the order and display his skills at constructing an Indian victory. It is a desire that strikes every batsman dubbed a T20 specialist. His promise persuaded the team management to groom him as a replacement for Yuvraj Singh last year, but the venture failed.

Raina was cast aside for the Asia Cup. A run of 24 innings with only one half-century meant the weakness against short-pitched bowling had crept into his one-day performance. His bustle was gone, his footwork was nervous and his mind cluttered. The situation had become so dire that Raina was struck with misgivings about his future. But rejuvenating talks with former India captain Sourav Ganguly quelled the negativity. A typically savvy run in the IPL, culminating in a standout innings in the second qualifier would have ushered his confidence to the other end of the spectrum.

"He can develop into a good captain in the future," Duncan Fletcher had said during India's tour of West Indies in 2011. Raina lent weight to the assessment by guiding a young squad to triumph in the one-off T20 and the ensuing ODI series. It was a welcome balm against reminders of his debut as India captain - two crippling losses to Zimbabwe in 2010 and an early exit in a triangular one-day series.

A happy time at the helm did not flow into his batting against West Indies, though. His strokeplay had bordered on rash, limiting his impact to 82 runs in five matches. Fletcher had touched on the difficulties of juggling captaincy along with the process of establishing oneself as a player. "As a young player you are trying to develop your game and trying to establish your game but at the same time you are looking after 10 to 14 other youngsters," Fletcher said.

Unlike those two series, this squad, while fresh, has an average age of 27, the same as Raina's, which means the time spent cracking the domestic circuit would come in more than handy. The rest will also know the stakes. There are holes in the middle order that need to be filled before the 50-over World Cup. Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Raina himself will hope to use this series to stake their respective cases. The make-up of the fast-bowling attack is still in its experimental stages, which would invite Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Vinay Kumar to put their best foot forward.

There is much to play for and Raina will hope his bowlers seek victims with the fierce gusto of the street vendors in Dhaka, his batsmen channel the city's perennial activity while at the crease and, on the whole, spread some cricket fever as well.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by y4yoga on (June 15, 2014, 6:48 GMT)

I Completely agree to #GRVJPR, what ever said is 100 % true. And It would be good if Everyone to look 4 years back,After Dravid era, It was Raina coming in at no 3 and was playing well, Its because of virat's entry Raina has to bat at no 5 as Yuvi is already at no 4. When people say that only 1 half century in 30 odd innings, you need to look at 1. Chasing or Seting Target, 2. If Chasing how many runs left to chase with Required RR, 3. If Batting How many overs left. Also need to look at If some other Indian Batsmen(apart from MSD) have the capacity to bat under pressure and right from the 1st ball with any RR and also with same consistency. Finally Short Balls, Every batsmen who tries to hit the short ball fails some times but Why only Raina? That too afterall people have watched him hit many sixes in short ball than getting out.For Instance Let Raina and Virat Exchange their places in batting order for couple of series, Then we can easily come to know who fails in consistency

Posted by android_user on (June 14, 2014, 21:53 GMT)

I think raina is the best future captain of indian team and become a good hitters in the world he should be come no3

Posted by   on (June 14, 2014, 16:40 GMT)

Raina should bat at 3/4 & prove to the world what he is made of

Posted by   on (June 14, 2014, 8:33 GMT)

Tigers !!!.... wash them .. wash them affixing a "Bangla Wash"

Posted by   on (June 14, 2014, 7:56 GMT)

Uttappa, Rahane, Pujara, Tiwary, Raina, Jadhav, Patel, Mishra, Vinay, Mohit, Umesh

Posted by jimbond on (June 14, 2014, 5:40 GMT)

I would have preferred Raina and Tiwari play with the A team against the short pitched bowling- in Australia. In which case they might have something to prove with their experiences. It would also have benefited Rahane and Rayudu to get some experience in Australia. Giving experience to someone like Akshar Patel in Bangladesh is a good idea because BD batsmen play left arm spin quite well. Binny is a waste of space in Bangladesh. However, of the remaining Raina, Uthappa, Rahane, Pujara, Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhiman Saha , and Amit Mishra are good enough to be in the national team. That leaves only three other experimental inclusions, of which Parvez Rasool, or Akshar Patel could add some excitement to the game, and others like Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary have all performed well at the national level and would be a handful on Bangladesh tracks. BD would have to play really well to win this one.

Posted by pravineswar on (June 14, 2014, 4:16 GMT)

i think Raina should have been picked as captain for India A squad to Australia. this would have given him more time to settle as captain and as a player ahead of England ODI's. With Virat being only alternative it is imperative to nurture others into captaincy role. having two captains for A tour is ridiculous and doesnt help the captain to grow. About Raina, I hope after Bangladesh tour he doesn't sit idle at home and waste his form. county stint would be better.

Posted by tanstell87 on (June 14, 2014, 3:52 GMT)

@GRVJPR - mate the World Cup will be played on bouncy & fast wickets in Australia & New Suresh Raina's skill against spin bowling wont be of any use...also with Dohni preferring to go with no hopers Jadeja & Ashwin at 7 & 8...India will struggle big time in upcoming England ODIs provided Kohli & Uthappa score some runs at the top..

Posted by GRVJPR on (June 14, 2014, 2:40 GMT)

When writer says he had only 1 half century in 40 odd innings he forgets that India was chasing most times and it wasn't raina's fault that not many runs were left to get to win match for India. Also Virat kohli coming at top of the order scored most runs. He is one of the best one day players if you look at his record. Avg of 36 at strike rate of above 90 is just brilliant. India struggled without him in Asia Cup , that is the fact. Selectors now realize their mistake and bought him back. Also this talk of him struggling againt short ball is rubbish. He is an attacking batsmen and ocassionaly every batsmen get out palying short ball, especially when asking rate is 10 an over. Fact is that he is so good that even little things that goes wrong are made to look big. Talking about short ball did english batsmen played johnson well?? Also it is a huge skill to score hundreds against spin. When even tendulakr, dravid, laxman were struggling against mendis - Suresh Raina who scored hundred.

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (June 14, 2014, 1:14 GMT)

Sehwag presence would fill the kohli and dhoni absence. Besides his experience would come handy for Raina on this crucial tour. You can't expect all this much from a new skipper without supporting him. Besides giving Segway a chance to Indian team.

Posted by   on (June 14, 2014, 0:47 GMT)

Tiwari's nemesis is his frequent injury-proneness compounded with bad luck. Often, he lands up as the 'right man' at the wrong times/places!

Posted by   on (June 13, 2014, 23:11 GMT)

Raina should bat at 3 for India vs Ban

Posted by   on (June 13, 2014, 22:30 GMT)

I think people should stop being so critical. Yes he has a bit of short ball weakness but so did Saurav Ganguly and Steve Waugh. Did that stop them from being legends. For anyone that does not see the use of Raina in an ODI team, you just need to go back and see the Asia cup. After getting decent starts the likes of Rahane, Rayudu and DK just couldn't get a move on and stagnated the run rate. If I remember we didn't get to 300. Raina is a naturally energetic player who can rise the tempo in that position. People should also consider the fact that he is a brilliant fielder and a more than useful bowler. I also see him as a guy who supports youngsters in the team and is always the first to congratulate a team mate when they do well in the field. Yes he had a little trough but so did many others. He contributes in many facets for the ODI and T20 and is a must in both formats. Hoping to see him in the world cup.

Posted by TNAmarkFromIndia on (June 13, 2014, 21:05 GMT)

Velangini P Reddy, maybe it has something to do with the fact that Rayudu is a highly overrated batsman who really hasn't done much to warrant a place in the Indian squad. Average player at best.

Posted by JRP100 on (June 13, 2014, 19:16 GMT)

Raina performing well here will be looked at as better than if rayudu, pujara, jadhav, uthappa or tiwary play well simply because he is the type of player india have missed since yuvraj, a middle order batsmen with a strike rate in the high 80s and an average in mid 30s. The reason india went down in NZ was because of the low strike rates mainly from rayudu and rahane, if raina were to be back to full form he could help india once again post those 300+scores with ease, while all of the others can only really play anchor roles which india dont need with rohit sharma and kohli being permanent spots.

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (June 13, 2014, 19:09 GMT)

@Kevin- Raina is still best finisher in the indian team. He will prove his skills in this tour.

Posted by ramz30380 on (June 13, 2014, 18:39 GMT)

@ Velangini P Reddy - plz are u serious? Can u plz justify ur comment saying tht Rayudu had performed better?!

He has played 4 matches against Zimbabwe & didnt light the tournament on fire! In NZ in the crucial 4th ODI with Kohli opening the innings, he was asked to come at No.4 - he scored 37 @ a strikerate of 63.79 whn acceleration was needed. Invariably MSD & SRJ finished tht innings well otherwise it wud've put up a pathetic score.

In the all imp 5th ODI he scord 20 off 40 balls when India was chasing a target of 303! His only reasonable performance was against Pakistan in the Asia Cup where he scored 58!

He played all 4 matches in the Aisa Cup & make no mistake he was preferred over Raina. It was for everyone to see how much India missed a Raina there! Anyday Raina is a better choice than Rayudu! Rayudu wasnt too great in touch in the IPL as well. Dhawan/GG, Rohit/Uthappa, Virat, Raina, Rahane, MSD, SRJ, Ashwin, Bhuvi, Shami, Mohit Sharma/Yadav/Aaron - Ideal squad for WC2015

Posted by Ain_EL_Sabet on (June 13, 2014, 18:36 GMT)

Good opportunity for young Tashkin and Mithun ali to show their worth . All Bd batsmen except Sakib are off form . Imrul Kayes is in good form but he is not picked. So I guess Bd will be hindiwash from this series but Anamul Haque can be dangerous for india though. (Bd fan here)

Posted by Nampally on (June 13, 2014, 18:35 GMT)

Raina is leading a very strong ODI team in 3 BD ODI's. With openers like Uthappa & Jadhev followed by Pujara, Rahane, Tiwary, Rayudu & Raina , the batting is very strong. Yadev, Mohit, Mishra, A.Patel + 1 more seamer, the bowling is in good hands too.Saha is the WK in case Uthappa is not keeping. In fact Raina will have tough time selecting his XI with such a wealth of talent. These are not kids who have no experience of Cricket. Pujara has been kept out of ODI's inexplicably when India had weakness in the middle order. The middle order in this team is very good. Pujara takes Kohli's #3, Tiwary or Rahane#4, Raina#5, Rayudu#6. This will be followed by 5 bowlers- 3 seamers + A.Patel + Mishra or Rasool or Tiwary (a useful leg spineer). Raina can also bowl off spin. I expect a strong performance from this team which has lot of depth in both batting & bowling. Good Luck Raina.

Posted by android_user on (June 13, 2014, 18:29 GMT)

Raina is a very good players. just in slow pitches. He will struggle big time in the world cup.

Posted by   on (June 13, 2014, 18:19 GMT)

@Velangini Reddy - Rayadu is one of the batsmen I love to watch ...but With 2 openers, Dhoni himself, & 5 bowlers, there are only 3 slots for middle order batsmen. Virat Kohli takes one almost by default, leaving only 2. Options - Rohit Sharma, Rayadu, Yuvaraj Singh, Raina, Pujara, Rahane, Samson............ each of them is as likely / unlikely to click as any of the others. It therefore boils down to who Dhoni is more comfortable with.

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (June 13, 2014, 17:23 GMT)

When you call him a T20 material, you actually or rather comfotably forget the stability he gave to the Indian middle order. A T20 material can never do that.

Posted by Cricsnake on (June 13, 2014, 16:49 GMT)

Raina got a good chance to prove his skills as a captain & even as a batting allrounder. I wish him all the best. Bangladesh cannot be taken lightly as they would be deadly on their day. Pujara seems the best vice captain to him as he would be the future of India along with Kohli. He need more experience. Pujara can be the next Dravid or even better if nurtured properly.

Posted by android_user on (June 13, 2014, 16:14 GMT)

Raina should use Rayudu at #3. He can both steady the innings and score quick runs. For some reason Rayudu doesn't seem to be in the good books of Dhoni despite good performances

Posted by Kashi0127 on (June 13, 2014, 15:34 GMT)

Absolutely right tanstell87. Raina is just T20 material, specifically the entertainment kind called IPL.

Posted by ladycricfan on (June 13, 2014, 15:31 GMT)

Wish Raina could play every time like he played in the IPL Q2. It was awesome. Short ball , length ball, good ball, bad ball every thing disappeared to the fence with absolute ease. Hope his captaincy stint goes well as well. Wish him luck.

Posted by android_user on (June 13, 2014, 15:10 GMT)

good chance to youngsters to show their talent

Posted by CricFanKrish on (June 13, 2014, 14:16 GMT)

This is a fantastic opportunity for people like Robbie, Pujara, Rahane, Umesh, Mohit and Parvez. While the first four have played for India, Parvez will be looking for convincing the selectors with a good show. Tiwary has been a bit unlucky though. He did very well when he last played for India, but I believe he was a replacement player then. The return of the stalwarts forced him to sit out. All-in-all, with as many as eight players from the national team not playing this is a great opportunity for these players to grab whatever opportunity that comes their way.

Posted by tanstell87 on (June 13, 2014, 14:11 GMT)

cant understand how Raina made the ODI team and more so as captain...he was not part of Asia Cup & ideally Pujara or Uthappa should have been given that he has got the opportunity he needs to make most of it...but his true test will come in England ODIs & later in year in Australia tri-series...

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