Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2013, Chennai May 2, 2013

Raina fills gap in his IPL resumé

It has been a golden run for Raina in the yellow of Chennai Super Kings, and he has now filled the void of a missing IPL century
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Think IPL. Think a left-hander, in yellow jersey, swiping them over midwicket. Chris Gayle may have captured the Indian public's imagination in recent seasons but Suresh Raina has been depositing sixes into the Chennai crowd ever since the IPL began. The condensed nature of Twenty20 and the everydayness of games in the two-month IPL season make it difficult for lasting images to form in one's mind. But that image of Raina has been a constant across the six seasons of the IPL, an instant recall whenever the name of the league comes up in discussions. Given this, it was kind of incongruous that Raina did not have a hundred till today in the tournament that has given him so much.

In many ways, the IPL has made Raina, and also given him the opportunity to do what he wanted to but has not been able to in international cricket. He hasn't been able to crack it at Test level, so far at least. He may have a case when he says he is not so bad against the short ball and is working on getting better, but he's also let it get into his head, and that has hampered his batting. Ability, perceived or not, hasn't been an issue in ODIs, but team combination has gone against him.

He's made it clear on more than a few occasions that he'd like to bat up the order in one-dayers so that he can have the chance to score more hundreds, but the India top order has been spoilt for choice. He's also developed a reputation as a finisher in the format, something that may have also worked against his ambition.

What couldn't happen in white or blue, has happened in the Chennai Super Kings yellow. From the start of the IPL, Raina has consistently batted far higher than he does for India, under the same captain. The result has been standout consistency - he's tallied more than 400 runs every IPL season thus far, and is on his way to do it again in 2013. He has the most T20 runs for an Indian, and among the top eight scorers in the format, is the only one who's not been a freelancer.

An IPL hundred. That was the one big feather missing from Raina's studded T20 cap. Paul Valthaty has it. Manish Pandey has it. It took six seasons to come, but belatedly, and finally, Raina has it too now. How much did it mean to him? On his 52nd delivery, in the mind-numbing Chennai heat, he sprawled into his crease to beat the throw on a second run to move to 99. He got up, pumped his fist and let out a cry. No, it wasn't premature celebration, but something else from four seasons ago was on his mind. He had avoided running himself out, and had the chance to get to the landmark which he thought he had achieved back in the 2009 IPL season in Centurion.

That day, a scoreboard error had fooled Raina into believing he had become the first Indian to reach an IPL hundred - Manish Pandey was yet to happen - when, in fact, he had reached 98. He jumped in the air, celebrated and fell the next ball, walking back with the belief he'd done it.

It took four more years, but Chennai, his base in the IPL, was a far more fitting venue than Centurion would have been. Not that weren't similarities between the two innings. That day, too, Raina made it look easy on a pitch which the rest of his team-mates could not quite thrive on. This time, he made light of a slow pitch to hit almost as many sixes as fours.

This was typical Raina. The effortless loft over extra cover, the late straight sixes that smashed into the sightscreen, the pick-up over midwicket, the late cut. And the tireless running in the afternoon heat. He had a large blue towel on his head during the time-outs and was receiving shoulder and back rubs. Chennai 2013 was hard-earned, as was SSC 2010.

Whatever happens to his Test career, no one can take away from Raina that debut hundred in Sri Lanka. This is vastly different, and not only on the importance scale. It is also in a different context. While that marked an unbelievable start to what has been largely disappointment since; this fills the remaining void in what has been a golden career in yellow.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | May 3, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    What Raina does better than anyone is give joy to the fans. Whether he scores runs or fields or bowls, he, like Brett Lee, does it with a smile and happiness and gratitude for the game and for life. On how many occasions has this young man said, "God has been kind" when things go well for him. If he spoke English like Virat Kohli, everyone would be gaga about Raina, especially in the media. But thank God he is in the right team under the right captain, where he can simply do what he obviously enjoys doing.

    Not many people know Raina is the only Indian to have a century in every format of the game, and not many remember his crucial knock against Australia in the WC. Is it just me or has Raina started to muscle the ball a lot less these days? His bat seems to be lighter and he seems to rely on timing a whole lot more. He is still quite young and he has oodles of energy and great attitude. What an asset for CSK and India!

  • POSTED BY svenkat02 on | May 3, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    Raina is a brilliant shorter format player. He can be just that, and end up as a highly sucessful cricketer. He doesn't need to crack the "test" code at all. He has great attitude, a bubbly character who is always positive and doesn't burst just for the theatricals (like certain Kohli's and Sreesanth's do).

  • POSTED BY ThyrSaadam on | May 3, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    Not the burst the Raina bubble but i think he is a good limited overs player, nothing against his abilities, but i think he falls well short of the technique required to play the short balls in test cricket. How i wish he would rectify that and translate his form to the longer version!

  • POSTED BY Dhanno on | May 3, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    @Naresh, Article says nothing about ODIs. So why should I remember them ? He is good in ODIs and was a sharp fielder when he came on scene. Again this does not justify the chances he got in Tests or his failures. Hence the criticism is valid.

    Raina like so many other new crop subcontinental players is a flat track bully and good one at that. His achievements in IPL are not a surprise and so aren't his failures in Test cricket. Leaving leg stump open and swiping the balls can only take you so much ahead in real contest between bat and ball.

  • POSTED BY JBSA on | May 3, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    Raina is not the only Indian batsman have weakness against bouncers. The only problem he is too conscious about it. Slowly and Gradually he can come over it. Those who feel he is not ready for Indian Test team, he accepted he is improving himself. I can see him down at No 5/6 cementing his place. He is worthy enough than Rohit Sharma or Yuvraj Singh there. Vijay Dhawan Pujara Kohli XXXXX Raina Dhoni Jadeja/Irfan/(Any Allrounder) Ashwin Ojha/Mishra/Umesh Ishanth/Praveen/Aaron... My future Test line up. The ideal candidate for XXXX's place would be Badri but he will be looked over becas of his age. So that place would be given for DK or Rohit or Rahane.

  • POSTED BY Dhanno on | May 3, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    @Christy, Where does comparison with mumbaikars or Kanitkar came in to discussion? This article is about Raina's IPL success and his non-achievements in Tests (since that amazing first 100 at SSC). Now Kanitkar, firstly he was MAH player, only played 2 tests. Rohit Sharma never played tests. I fail to understand where did they get so many chances which others could have grabbed? Even though they are not central to discussion, and I am not championing their cause in Tests, I am glad you bring up two players (from albeit different school of cricket). Both have superior FC avg, 53 and 60 as compared to Raina's 46. I discounted Raina's 17 tests to arrive at 46. So even if we argue all 3 played on flat pitches in india facing avg FC bowlers, Raina is distant third. Just for comparison sake, Badrinath FC avg 60, same for Rahane, Mukund 52, even Yuvi, who I do not rate as Test player has FC avg of 50. It just goes to show Raina is not made for test cricket hence the failures at highest level

  • POSTED BY vsroc on | May 3, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Posted by Venkat Sraman It was a maiden and nice century scored by Suresh Raina in IPL.Left handed batsmen of CSK and KXIP teams dominated the proceedings in batting..Out of the six left handed batsmen pkayed y'day,Suresh Raina's innings was an outstanding one.

    V.Sethuraman.

  • POSTED BY on | May 3, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    David Miller seems to be a Player for the future for SA

  • POSTED BY vsroc on | May 3, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    Posted by Venkat Sraman It was a maiden and nice century scored by Suresh Raina in IPL.Left handed batsmen of CSK and KXIP teams dominated the proceedings in batting..Out of the six left handed batsmen pkayed y'day,Suresh Raina's innings was an outstanding one.

    V.Sethuraman.

  • POSTED BY VSNVK on | May 3, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Suresh Raina seems to have penchant for 2nd May. He scored his only T20 International 100 also on 2nd May 2010 in WC. What a coincidence.

  • POSTED BY sweetspot on | May 3, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    What Raina does better than anyone is give joy to the fans. Whether he scores runs or fields or bowls, he, like Brett Lee, does it with a smile and happiness and gratitude for the game and for life. On how many occasions has this young man said, "God has been kind" when things go well for him. If he spoke English like Virat Kohli, everyone would be gaga about Raina, especially in the media. But thank God he is in the right team under the right captain, where he can simply do what he obviously enjoys doing.

    Not many people know Raina is the only Indian to have a century in every format of the game, and not many remember his crucial knock against Australia in the WC. Is it just me or has Raina started to muscle the ball a lot less these days? His bat seems to be lighter and he seems to rely on timing a whole lot more. He is still quite young and he has oodles of energy and great attitude. What an asset for CSK and India!

  • POSTED BY svenkat02 on | May 3, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    Raina is a brilliant shorter format player. He can be just that, and end up as a highly sucessful cricketer. He doesn't need to crack the "test" code at all. He has great attitude, a bubbly character who is always positive and doesn't burst just for the theatricals (like certain Kohli's and Sreesanth's do).

  • POSTED BY ThyrSaadam on | May 3, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    Not the burst the Raina bubble but i think he is a good limited overs player, nothing against his abilities, but i think he falls well short of the technique required to play the short balls in test cricket. How i wish he would rectify that and translate his form to the longer version!

  • POSTED BY Dhanno on | May 3, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    @Naresh, Article says nothing about ODIs. So why should I remember them ? He is good in ODIs and was a sharp fielder when he came on scene. Again this does not justify the chances he got in Tests or his failures. Hence the criticism is valid.

    Raina like so many other new crop subcontinental players is a flat track bully and good one at that. His achievements in IPL are not a surprise and so aren't his failures in Test cricket. Leaving leg stump open and swiping the balls can only take you so much ahead in real contest between bat and ball.

  • POSTED BY JBSA on | May 3, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    Raina is not the only Indian batsman have weakness against bouncers. The only problem he is too conscious about it. Slowly and Gradually he can come over it. Those who feel he is not ready for Indian Test team, he accepted he is improving himself. I can see him down at No 5/6 cementing his place. He is worthy enough than Rohit Sharma or Yuvraj Singh there. Vijay Dhawan Pujara Kohli XXXXX Raina Dhoni Jadeja/Irfan/(Any Allrounder) Ashwin Ojha/Mishra/Umesh Ishanth/Praveen/Aaron... My future Test line up. The ideal candidate for XXXX's place would be Badri but he will be looked over becas of his age. So that place would be given for DK or Rohit or Rahane.

  • POSTED BY Dhanno on | May 3, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    @Christy, Where does comparison with mumbaikars or Kanitkar came in to discussion? This article is about Raina's IPL success and his non-achievements in Tests (since that amazing first 100 at SSC). Now Kanitkar, firstly he was MAH player, only played 2 tests. Rohit Sharma never played tests. I fail to understand where did they get so many chances which others could have grabbed? Even though they are not central to discussion, and I am not championing their cause in Tests, I am glad you bring up two players (from albeit different school of cricket). Both have superior FC avg, 53 and 60 as compared to Raina's 46. I discounted Raina's 17 tests to arrive at 46. So even if we argue all 3 played on flat pitches in india facing avg FC bowlers, Raina is distant third. Just for comparison sake, Badrinath FC avg 60, same for Rahane, Mukund 52, even Yuvi, who I do not rate as Test player has FC avg of 50. It just goes to show Raina is not made for test cricket hence the failures at highest level

  • POSTED BY vsroc on | May 3, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Posted by Venkat Sraman It was a maiden and nice century scored by Suresh Raina in IPL.Left handed batsmen of CSK and KXIP teams dominated the proceedings in batting..Out of the six left handed batsmen pkayed y'day,Suresh Raina's innings was an outstanding one.

    V.Sethuraman.

  • POSTED BY on | May 3, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    David Miller seems to be a Player for the future for SA

  • POSTED BY vsroc on | May 3, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    Posted by Venkat Sraman It was a maiden and nice century scored by Suresh Raina in IPL.Left handed batsmen of CSK and KXIP teams dominated the proceedings in batting..Out of the six left handed batsmen pkayed y'day,Suresh Raina's innings was an outstanding one.

    V.Sethuraman.

  • POSTED BY VSNVK on | May 3, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    Suresh Raina seems to have penchant for 2nd May. He scored his only T20 International 100 also on 2nd May 2010 in WC. What a coincidence.

  • POSTED BY Christy1268 on | May 3, 2013, 7:16 GMT

    @ Dhanno - Ur point is fine, but why didnt the other batters reach 400 every season in IPL against these mediocre bowlers ? give credit where it is due- Kanitkar & Rohit Sharma had been given so many choices, which any non-Mumbaikar wud have grabbed with both hands, if they had been given half of those chances ...

  • POSTED BY Naresh28 on | May 3, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    @dhanno - you forget Raina's other contribution on the field as one of the best Indian fielders. He brings much needed energy which can lift a team. The WC victory - he was part of that team. At the end of the day its the team combination and contribution that is important. So for this reason he is a wonderful Indian cricketer.

  • POSTED BY hotcric01 on | May 3, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    One of few players in the international cricket who is raised from IPL. One of best athletic fielder in the world and a fine shorter format batsman.If he can sort out his problems against short ball then he would be a solid test batsman too.His technically correct cover drives and off drives are watchful.His slog sweeps are very reliable to go over the rope.And a useful bowler too.India should manage him better.

  • POSTED BY on | May 3, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    He says he would like to bat higher up but didnt give himself the opportunity when he led the team in Zimbabwe and West Indies. He continued to bat at 5 & 6 while giving guys like Rohit Sharma the chance to bat at three. In fact, indian team management did try him at number 3 for quite a while in ODIs. He is one of the gutsiest indian cricketers, but i would like to see him being a little more ambitious about his future. This way, he is moving towards becoming one of the best finishers in international cricket, but he will never be regarded as the best batsman in the Indian team, which he has the potential to be.

  • POSTED BY on | May 3, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    Whenever RCB plays , it looks that they are desparate to win every game and also the IPL . This puts enormous pressure on themselves and they fail when it matters . Contrarily , CSK plays every game to the best of their ability and the results are there for every one to see . It is indeed a fact that there is some one or the other in the CSK team to take them over the line . The CSK team management has given the players total freedom and it is an advantage that they have Dhoni at the helm . So far they have been successful in 9 out of 11 games without being at their best .God knows when every player of CSK performs at their best .

  • POSTED BY roversgate on | May 3, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    I've been saying this for a while now but Raina should be promoted to #4 in ODIs and T20s. This would mean he will exchange places with Yuvraj Singh. Not that I am saying Yuvi is bad, but Yuvi also bowls so he is already contributing a lot to the team effort and is a fantastic finisher as well.

  • POSTED BY Dhanno on | May 2, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    Is this damning by faint praise or what? "IPL has allowed raina to achieve what he couldnt in test cricket so far." Doesnt that speak volumes about Raina's ability? Lets just see what bowlers he faced today to his monumental 100, Kumar/ Hussey/ Gony/Awana/Chawla/ some Sathish. So why should such inning matter? Scoring 400 each IPL season against 80% of mediocre bowling- that will translate into failure when one steps up to higher level of test cricket. One remarkable thing article mentions is Raina's 100 at SSC. When we think Sachin we think Old trafford 100 or Perth and sydney on first tour, Azhar had counterattacking 100 in SA or 3 debut 100s, Saurav/Dravid have their Lord's debut, VVS his Eden. I couldnt remember the SSC 100. It was remarkable in its futileness. It was test where SL scored 642/4 with 3 hundreds and india 700 with almost 3 centuries! A boring draw, the kind that makes crowd turn away Test cricket, I am glad that is all Raina has to show for his test credentials.

  • POSTED BY Angry_Bowler on | May 2, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    Suresh Raina is the best IPL Indian player, period. I hope he will continue his form for many seasons in future.

  • POSTED BY on | May 2, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    When he next get an opportunity to play Test cricket, he should bat thinking he is playing an ODI. India does not have a better player for that format, including MSD at the moment. He should play freely as his weakness to short ball is not a flaw in his technique. Remember Dada, he too had this problem and most Rt handed people batting Lt handed will have this as they will all be top hand players. Even in the loft, it is his Rt hand which is giving the power and timing, mostly the later. Such players are a treat to watch as they are very good in guiding the ball precisely.

  • POSTED BY draravind on | May 2, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Raina is a real fighter of the game. He had worked a lot for a test career too. He nearly missed a chance to get into the team against australia. remember he had hit a beautiful century against aus in warm up match..I am sure he will come back in test side for INDIA..

  • POSTED BY A.Ak on | May 2, 2013, 16:19 GMT

    CSK and IPL gives lots of freedom. But playing for National Test team puts lots of pressure on him. And he failed. But without any doubt, he has been really good in limited overs games in all level. Some players never really mean to do certain things. Remember Bevan? though he was very good in all formats, he wasnt able to play much in Test matches for AUS.

  • POSTED BY ODI_BestFormOfCricket on | May 2, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    His consistency under yellow jersey prolonged over six years is incredible and mindboggling. Maybe gayle took all attention from him in recent days but in terms of consistency gayle is no where near to raina considering all ipl seasons. Gayle did nothing to KKR in first three seasons of ipl and NOTE THAT, no ipl franchise had bid him in re-auction. But matured gayle came back VERY STRONGLY and had NO lookback after that. Raina still have age in his side and will do consistently more as what gayle doing now to RCB. Take a bow from one of the CSK fan prince.

  • POSTED BY ODI_BestFormOfCricket on | May 2, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    His consistency under yellow jersey prolonged over six years is incredible and mindboggling. Maybe gayle took all attention from him in recent days but in terms of consistency gayle is no where near to raina considering all ipl seasons. Gayle did nothing to KKR in first three seasons of ipl and NOTE THAT, no ipl franchise had bid him in re-auction. But matured gayle came back VERY STRONGLY and had NO lookback after that. Raina still have age in his side and will do consistently more as what gayle doing now to RCB. Take a bow from one of the CSK fan prince.

  • POSTED BY A.Ak on | May 2, 2013, 16:19 GMT

    CSK and IPL gives lots of freedom. But playing for National Test team puts lots of pressure on him. And he failed. But without any doubt, he has been really good in limited overs games in all level. Some players never really mean to do certain things. Remember Bevan? though he was very good in all formats, he wasnt able to play much in Test matches for AUS.

  • POSTED BY draravind on | May 2, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Raina is a real fighter of the game. He had worked a lot for a test career too. He nearly missed a chance to get into the team against australia. remember he had hit a beautiful century against aus in warm up match..I am sure he will come back in test side for INDIA..

  • POSTED BY on | May 2, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    When he next get an opportunity to play Test cricket, he should bat thinking he is playing an ODI. India does not have a better player for that format, including MSD at the moment. He should play freely as his weakness to short ball is not a flaw in his technique. Remember Dada, he too had this problem and most Rt handed people batting Lt handed will have this as they will all be top hand players. Even in the loft, it is his Rt hand which is giving the power and timing, mostly the later. Such players are a treat to watch as they are very good in guiding the ball precisely.

  • POSTED BY Angry_Bowler on | May 2, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    Suresh Raina is the best IPL Indian player, period. I hope he will continue his form for many seasons in future.

  • POSTED BY Dhanno on | May 2, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    Is this damning by faint praise or what? "IPL has allowed raina to achieve what he couldnt in test cricket so far." Doesnt that speak volumes about Raina's ability? Lets just see what bowlers he faced today to his monumental 100, Kumar/ Hussey/ Gony/Awana/Chawla/ some Sathish. So why should such inning matter? Scoring 400 each IPL season against 80% of mediocre bowling- that will translate into failure when one steps up to higher level of test cricket. One remarkable thing article mentions is Raina's 100 at SSC. When we think Sachin we think Old trafford 100 or Perth and sydney on first tour, Azhar had counterattacking 100 in SA or 3 debut 100s, Saurav/Dravid have their Lord's debut, VVS his Eden. I couldnt remember the SSC 100. It was remarkable in its futileness. It was test where SL scored 642/4 with 3 hundreds and india 700 with almost 3 centuries! A boring draw, the kind that makes crowd turn away Test cricket, I am glad that is all Raina has to show for his test credentials.

  • POSTED BY roversgate on | May 3, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    I've been saying this for a while now but Raina should be promoted to #4 in ODIs and T20s. This would mean he will exchange places with Yuvraj Singh. Not that I am saying Yuvi is bad, but Yuvi also bowls so he is already contributing a lot to the team effort and is a fantastic finisher as well.

  • POSTED BY on | May 3, 2013, 3:32 GMT

    Whenever RCB plays , it looks that they are desparate to win every game and also the IPL . This puts enormous pressure on themselves and they fail when it matters . Contrarily , CSK plays every game to the best of their ability and the results are there for every one to see . It is indeed a fact that there is some one or the other in the CSK team to take them over the line . The CSK team management has given the players total freedom and it is an advantage that they have Dhoni at the helm . So far they have been successful in 9 out of 11 games without being at their best .God knows when every player of CSK performs at their best .

  • POSTED BY on | May 3, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    He says he would like to bat higher up but didnt give himself the opportunity when he led the team in Zimbabwe and West Indies. He continued to bat at 5 & 6 while giving guys like Rohit Sharma the chance to bat at three. In fact, indian team management did try him at number 3 for quite a while in ODIs. He is one of the gutsiest indian cricketers, but i would like to see him being a little more ambitious about his future. This way, he is moving towards becoming one of the best finishers in international cricket, but he will never be regarded as the best batsman in the Indian team, which he has the potential to be.

  • POSTED BY hotcric01 on | May 3, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    One of few players in the international cricket who is raised from IPL. One of best athletic fielder in the world and a fine shorter format batsman.If he can sort out his problems against short ball then he would be a solid test batsman too.His technically correct cover drives and off drives are watchful.His slog sweeps are very reliable to go over the rope.And a useful bowler too.India should manage him better.