England v India, 2nd ODI, Cardiff

Small steps as Raina chases big runs

Suresh Raina has kept himself in contention for India outside of Asia by doing the small things well - now he needs to produce big innings with greater regularity

Sidharth Monga in Cardiff

August 27, 2014

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'Raina's innings was fantastic' - Dhoni

In the 30th over, MS Dhoni smashed the first ball he faced back at the offspinner James Tredwell. More often than is healthy, we have seen this shot run out the non-striker because they are always on the lookout for a single. Tredwell dived as the ball went to his left - he was bowling round the wicket - but behind him, Suresh Raina had his bat in the right hand, which was right in this case, and he dived back just in case. The ball hit the stumps, but the umpire didn't even need to check if Tredwell had got a finger on it because Raina was well in.

These are small things, as many a dopey batsman who has been run out at the non-striker's end or Mankaded will tell you. Raina does small things well. He backs up for throws; he dives around the every given opportunity; he slaps the bottoms of his team-mates when they field well; he enjoys fielding; he gives Dhoni a few miserly overs, which is why he is in the team playing ODIs outside Asia. For the big things - the runs - have mostly been a matter of potential when it comes to playing in tough conditions.


MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina added 144 for the fifth wicket, England v India, 2nd ODI, Cardiff, August 27, 2014
Suresh Raina picked a good opportunity to impress his No. 5 credentials on MS Dhoni © Getty Images
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Before this match, Raina had crossed the score of 50 only three times in 55 innings outside Asia. That, for a specialist batsman, is not pretty. He had paid for it earlier in the year, when he was dropped after the New Zealand tour. He had a good IPL, again, and came back as the captain when many of the seniors gave the Bangladesh tour a miss. He retained that place for this England tour, which can be put down to what he brings to the side apart from his batting. He would have been under pressure to prove his batting.

He still will be, actually. This was a high-quality century, coming at a time when two batsmen had got out to soft dismissals in the middle of the innings, but Dhoni was quick to point out that it won't ensure Raina a fixed place in the World Cup plans.

"The thing is, if a batsman plays one good innings you talk him right up," Dhoni said. "If he doesn't play good a innings or if he had not played this innings, the question would have been entirely different. If he doesn't score in a couple of games against West Indies you will be the person asking some other question. Let's move ahead. It was a very good hundred. The World Cup is still three-four series away. Hopefully he won't be injured, and will be available for selection, and that will be good for us."

Dhoni might have been phlegmatic about the implications of the knock, but for the innings itself he was full of praise. "It was a fantastic knock," Dhoni said. "By the end of the 30th over, I don't know what the score was, but I don't think we had scored too many. It was important that he stayed there because he was one batsman who was set. And we have realised that if we can get a partnership going, if we have wickets in hand, we can have a lot of runs in the last 10-12 overs, so his innings was very crucial. He is someone who scores at a very quick pace, and plays authentic cricketing shots. So I feel he played a fantastic innings, once he got his fifty he continued and moved on to play some fantastic shots and got his hundred."

India were 110 for 3 in the 24th over when Raina came in. It was soon to become 132 for 4 in the 30th. This was a side that had spent the last two tours outside Asia without a win. They were looking at another slide. Raina could have been given out lbw on 17 but after that he played pretty much as well as you can play in that situation. There was his usual moving inside the line to counter the short ball, but there were some nice drives through the off side, and chips off the spinners.

Almost inconspicuously, Raina reached 36 off 43, and then exploded in the Powerplay. He used the ground's short straight boundaries well. He ran extremely well. Dhoni was allowed to play himself in, as he likes to do. It was a perfect No. 5's innings. Raina, who has not been able to cement himself a particular slot in the batting order and has been floating around, has got the captain's nod for No. 5. Dhoni said that 98 times out of 100, in similar situations, you will see Raina come in at No. 5. If only he can keep on playing as well as he did in Cardiff.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Sexysteven on (August 29, 2014, 2:55 GMT)

To me raina is better then just a finisher number five is agood position for him if they lose early wickets he's good enough to come in and rebuild a inning and if he comes in half way through the innings then he can finish it off so for me he can do both jobs reasonably well so there should be hundreds for him at he bats at five from now on it's understating rainas ability if you call him just a finisher to me he looks better then that

Posted by Shenoys on (August 29, 2014, 1:03 GMT)

That was a nicely paced innings from Raina. Gud to c a Indian bat like that after a long time. A breezy innings started from the powerplays, which Raina & Dhoni played powerfully. To me Raina is INDIAN MICHEAL BEVAN!!!!

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 16:33 GMT)

Well done Raina... from Sri lankan fan

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 15:24 GMT)

@ Dipankar Banerjee on (August 28, 2014, 12:01 GMT):

I have counted at least six posts, after this match (and more earlier), saying: "...Drop Dhawan, Get Rahane to open in Dhawan's place. And bring Samson in...Or, something to the same effect..."

Is there anyone in the team management listening. Hello! Hello! Shastri! Fletcher! Dhoni! Bangar! ... Anyone there?

Posted by gautam1 on (August 28, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

raina is the most fluent left handed stroke making batsman at present

Posted by gautam1 on (August 28, 2014, 14:52 GMT)

well done raina. he must be given a chance in test matches to.because he has improved a lot as a perfect batsman ,he is a good fielder in any position even in slips.he is a left handed batsman which india is lacking in middle order and also he is the only player who keeps the team cheer up and encourages everyone.

Posted by mazdonal on (August 28, 2014, 14:48 GMT)

I loved his comment when receiving his award that even though he was not picked for the Tests, he was intimately involved and observing everything keenly. That is the way. Never to rub it in and crow about your ability. Keep it up Raina my man. We love you.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 14:43 GMT)

Shikhar Dhawan needs to be dropped immediately.He doesnt have the standard to play International cricket.He cant even succeed in Ranji at this stage of his career.

Posted by Nampally on (August 28, 2014, 13:29 GMT)

Raina & Dhoni are the 2 Most dominant & the best "Finishers" in the ODI cricket. They showed it again with a 144 run partnership when India really needed a big score from them. But the best part of Raina's batting is his S/R. His lifetime batting average in ODI is about 35 but his S/R is 92. Today his century came @ a S/R of 130+. The fact his batting average is not outstanding is because he is always expected to bat at a high S/R. So he mostly gets out in 30's. In the Cardiff ODI he had to build the Indian innings + its total as well, By God, he did it most authoritatively. What short ball? England had 4 Man pace attack in 135 KPH+ which was clobbered. Anderson, Jordon, Stokes & Woakes all had to face he wrath of Raina's bat. It was valuable Match winning high Octane responsible innings. Raina has literally replaced Yuvraj + his outstanding fielding is the best part of his game. In ODI Cricket, He has worked hard to combat his perceived susceptibility to the short pitched balls.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 12:46 GMT)

People complaining about his lack of centuries must just see the position he bats; 5,6 and even 7. In 2008 Raina was going great batting at 3 but gave the spot to Gambhir because India wanted to play Sachin, Viru and Gambhir. The spot then went to Kohli and Raina was left the finisher. That position is always hard because you are in either at the fall of three quick wickets or come in near the 35th over and have to smash from ball 1. Yes he did have some struggles overseas but which Indian batsmen didn't.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 12:01 GMT)

In 8 yrs of intl cricket this is his first hundred against a good side outside India. As Sourav G rightly said in his conversation with Sanjay M and Harsha its not great stats. Hopefully, Raina can be more consistent and make the No. 5 slot his own. Another point for open discussion, drop Dhawan (immediately, he is sorted out). Open with Rahane and bring in Samson in the middle. But I know MSD will not tinker with a winning line-up. :)

Posted by DipanjanMitra on (August 28, 2014, 11:52 GMT)

Raina has always been a promising young player for India in the ODIs. Coming down late in the batting order, he scores a half century in every 6.6 innings which is not at all bad, given the strike rate he has maintained playing close to 200 international matches. He also has a healthy batting average who can roll his arms with the ball and definitely a brilliant fielder. With almost ten years of ODI career, he should be promoted up the order now. This inning was definitely special as India never looked to even cross 275 runs when he came out to bat. The only shortcoming in his knock was the weakness against a few short balls which he needs to work on. And this has been a problem for many Indian batters for years, not just him. Other than that, it was a game changing effort in my opinion which came for India at the right juncture when the top order failed yet again. He performed under pressure when the team needed.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 9:41 GMT)

Raina and Dhoni played very well, they need big appreciation in this match former more than later. We should not forget the innings of Rohit and Rahane. In ODIs two new balls from both ends with world best swing bowler in lazy English weather conditions. I hope Rohit played really well and Rahane supported equally well. Happy to see without Kohli/Dhawan efforts India reached 300 mark. Indian ODI batting line up is too good if Kohli/Dhawan joins the party in next match then God only can save England. I liked Raina's approach in this match, no worry on short ones. He is one of the best batsman in shorter formats can easily hit 4s and 6s. We all witnessed in IPL match against Panjab. All the best India for remaining matches in this series. Don't carry with this WIN and not repeat the test series. All the best.

Posted by sweetspot on (August 28, 2014, 9:26 GMT)

For a guy coming in at #6, an average of 36 at a strike rate of 92 is very good. It may seem absurd that Raina has scored only four centuries and hit very few fifties in foreign conditions. But throughout his career he's scored numerous twenties and thirties in quick time that made it possible for India to close out games. He has always been an unsung hero, with immense talent. Not being comfortable against certain types of bowling is not a problem new to any batsman. But Raina has worked out how to deal with all of it.

The best part about Raina's batting is that he never lets the team down on the scoring rate. It's always going to be busy when he's out in the middle. As for big shots, he's always ready to play a few. I think we will soon recognize him as a key member in India's 2015 WC plans. He is one enormous positive influence.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 8:56 GMT)

Raina is a very good player. He proved his mettle once again. I think he should bat up the order(No.4) since he is q proven player for csk in past 6 years(NO.3). I have seen people criticizing him as limited overs specialist, but he is much more than that. He struggled against England in tests but it was against a very good bowling attack, even great players like Sachin and Laxman were also struggled. Kohli and pujara struggled this year. So, I hope he should be given another chance at tests.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (August 28, 2014, 7:52 GMT)

For too long, Rohit Sharma has been touted as the next big hope of Indian batting, only for him to belie those hopes, time and again. Suresh Raina, on the other hand, has unfairly copped too much criticism. True, he doesn't have the technique to tackle the short or moving ball. But, that is hardly his fault, having played almost all his cricket on dust bowls. Rohit, on the other hand, has failed his team repeatedly, most notoriously on the Lanka tour a couple of years back, when he scored about one run in 5 or 6 ODI innings. On that tour, Manoj Tiwary did everything right but still finds himself out in the cold. A look at Rohit & Raina's stats could perhaps burst the bubble that people around Rohit Sharma have built. And, mind you, too often his figures have been built by consuming precious time leaving little for the likes of Raina. In fact, if Rohit's strike rate outside the subcontinent is seen, it will be even worse than Rahul Dravid's. While both av 36, Raina has a SR of 92 v/s 78

Posted by 2009SHAMZ on (August 28, 2014, 7:45 GMT)

Raina, whose place in the ODI squad, has been in question for some time, showed he can perform in testing conditions. A superb century but he keeps to replicating it on a consistent basis

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 28, 2014, 5:35 GMT)

Well played RAINA and the WHOLE team. The bowling by Shami and Bhuvi was the surprise package. They were then backed up well by the spinners. I feel Raina must be line for captaincy - solely because he brings positive energy on the field in all three departments. Rahane showed qualities of an opener. Though I think a left/right combo is required at the top. When Dhoni goes Raina is most suitable for ODI captaincy.

Posted by kila995 on (August 28, 2014, 4:19 GMT)

India is an excellent one day team ...and Dhoni is superb

Posted by Kannanthenu on (August 28, 2014, 3:50 GMT)

Once Again Raina proves he is a match winner and a Excellent ODI Player.Team India misses him in tests.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 3:07 GMT)

Let's not over analyse the situation and praise Raina. Not long ago in NZ he was struggling on flat pitches due to the smart tactics employed by the Kiwi bowlers. England were caught off-guard today and Anderson had a rare off-day. As well as Raina batted the platform was set by Rahane and Rohit for him and Dhoni to spend time and explode at the end. Yes, Raina bring in a lot of positivity which a key driver to motivate the team plus his fielding and bowling abilities. I hope this century is a starting point to succeed in away games but the real test will be the tri-series in Aus just before the world cup.

Posted by sundar02 on (August 28, 2014, 2:32 GMT)

You wish some players to get succeed from your heart, Suresh is one of the player to me. Some might say, he play in the team because he play for CSK, some say, he is favorite to Dhoni. The fact is, he is a fighter and he did not come up from those big city and high coaching stuff. He is more of self builder. He is one of the main reason why CSK reaches finals every year. He had issues with his techniques and shot selection but he learning these days to tighten his game. I see a good change in the way he approach the short pitch ball now. I wish him to do well and earn a place in the test side and excel in all the formats.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 28, 2014, 2:19 GMT)

A fantastic and highly underrated cricketer. I think Raina is one of India's best limited overs cricketer. I don't think he's test quality in the sense, he doesn't 'know' how to play grandpa cricket for 5 days. But give him a time limit in terms of overs and number of ball and see that cricket ball disappear into the stands. Awesome bro ! Keep it up.

Posted by US_Indian on (August 28, 2014, 2:05 GMT)

See the double standards of Dhoni- as a captain he is too prejudiced or biased . He should have appreciated or applauded and could have said a few encouraging words instead he said that still he is not in our scheme of things for WC where as he will go any lengths to praise Yuvraj, Jadeja or Rohit and maybe even Ishant and Mohit, This small town guy Raina does everything and everytime when ever his captain or the team needs him to do with a smile, on any given day he is a much valuable ODI and T20 player.At least he is not selfish or snobbish off like others.

Posted by Cricsupernova on (August 28, 2014, 1:10 GMT)

Raina is a match winner player,he proved it in WC 2011,and he is also a good middle order batsman

Posted by   on (August 28, 2014, 0:37 GMT)

he is sincere towards the game and spirited. should be given more chance, kholi was excellent player, but pride goes before a fall, let him come down to earth and he will again win

Posted by barryrichardsfan on (August 27, 2014, 21:09 GMT)

Raina has been overly criticised despite having decent numbers for someone who has batted 5 and below most of his career. 36 avg. 92 strike rate. That is partly fair to some extent, one may say, as this was only his 4th 50+ score outside subcontinent. But he brings much more than just his batting to the unit. The energy and the positivity. Now time has come to see such contributions from him more often, as he is capable clearly. And regarding potentially more potent combination, Ind should use the services of Samson in middle order pushing Rahane to open(for Dhawam). Also would like to see Dhawal/Yadav at some stage though the trio today have held their spot for now.

Posted by LAKingsFan on (August 27, 2014, 19:34 GMT)

Raina has been an excellent limited overs player. Be it T20 or ODI, he rocks.

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