Bangladesh v India, 3rd ODI, Mirpur June 25, 2015

Will finisher Raina find lasting success?

Notwithstanding Suresh Raina's utility in ODIs, he has never quite been a full-fledged match-winner. MS Dhoni will hope Raina can change that in his new role at No 6

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'I would love to bat up the order' - Raina

India found themselves the villain in Mirpur owing to factors beyond the players' control. Based on their performances though, which were well within their purview, the visitors ended up more Wile E Coyote than Lex Luthor. Bumbling, unthreatening and repeatedly falling for the same trick. And Bangladesh have sped away, beep-beeping.

Meanwhile, MS Dhoni has undergone an Acme redesign and bats at No. 4 now. The last time he'd come in that early was in 2012, but it seems that will become the norm now for India. And by default, that leaves Suresh Raina, to front up as finisher. He is a team man, with the requisite power, the range of strokes and 217 ODIs' worth of knowledge to put into the job. In the third game, under threat of a whitewash, the plan finally worked.

Raina was brought in during the 44th over. A first-ball block for courtesy, the second smashed over cover and he retained strike for the next over with a single off the last ball. Rubel Hossain helped out when the yorker slipped into a full toss and was pasted over the midwicket boundary. Mashrafe Mortaza found a length closer to the blockhole, but Raina dipped low and tapped it past third man. The presence of mind to convert every opportunity is a usually a skill, but to a No. 6 batsman it is the job description.

The late thrust he provided aided India's victory in Mirpur, but people would have forgiven him had he not been able to do so. There were only 30-odd balls left in the innings. You often need luck to swing a game with that little wiggle room. And Raina did well with what he had to work with last night, but if he were to continue batting down the order for a good length of time, he'll need to be just as good when the situation demands him to last longer and score bigger.

In the 187 innings Raina has played, only 40 times has he faced more than 50 balls. Admittedly, he wouldn't get to play as many balls now but it does indicate that he is a nervous starter. A painful-looking mass of leather climbing up to your face will inspire weak knees. But perhaps batting at No. 6 might inadvertently help him. The ball would have gotten softer and the threat of the short ball is be diminished.

India could have done with a longer innings from Raina in the first two ODIs - a mistake he owned up to yesterday - and is looking to rectify.

Dhoni, the one who has masterminded this batting order shuffle, would certainly hope it pans out alright: "For the longer term, it's very important for us to see who can bat well at No.6 and 7, even maybe No. 5. That was the reason why I pushed Raina down," Dhoni said. "He has been successful at that slot, which means if I go up, there has to be somebody who is experienced enough to bat at that number.

"It's very difficult, you can't just go out there and play the big shot because you don't really have as many batsmen behind you. Maybe an opener, when he plays a big shot, he thinks twice. But if you are at 6 or 7, you have to think three times. Or you don't think at all because you are not worried about anything else."

Besides his batting, Raina is part of the clean-up crew that brings control back whenever India feel it is slipping. Either with his tight offspin - he bowled 20 overs at an economy of 4.95 in this series - or by his antics in the field. His alertness was responsible for running a dangerous Soumya Sarkar out in the first ODI and lend India some respite after a rollicking opening stand.

All of that adds to his potential as an all-round cricketer. But he hasn't yet become a full-fledged match-winner.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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