The best of Suresh Raina in India colours
From World Cup heroics to spellbinding fielding displays, here is a list of what made Raina so electric
Suresh Raina announced his retirement from international cricket on social media soon after MS Dhoni. He made his international debut over 15 years ago and had a special knack for playing important roles in big tournaments for India. Here's a list of some of his most memorable performances.
Cameos in the 2011 World Cup
Having spent time on the bench early on, Raina was brought in for the group match against West Indies and the knockout stages. His contributions in the quarter-final and the semi-final of India's title-winning campaign were hugely significant given the situation the team was in during both those matches.
Beating Australia in a World Cup was never an easy task, even for strong teams, and India felt it as Ricky Ponting struck a century on a turning pitch to take his team to a total of 260 in the quarter-final. Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir replied with half-centuries of their own but their dismissals left India needing 74 runs from 75 balls. MS Dhoni's dismissal in the 38th over had Raina join an on-song Yuvraj Singh at the crease. The duo turned the game around in the very next over with Yuvraj taking control of the chase and Raina giving commendable support. With India needing 22 off 30 balls, Raina walloped Brett Lee's over long-on which served as a huge turning point in the match.
Six days later, Raina would do it once again in the semi-final against Pakistan, with an unbeaten 36 off 39 on a slow pitch in Mohali, taking the total to 260. Tendulkar was the top-scorer with 85 off 115 balls but Raina's cameo was vital given India's margin of victory was a very tight 29 runs.
Heroics in 2008 Asia Cup
It had been almost three years since he had made his ODI debut but Raina had not cemented his place in the XI. But the 2008 Asia Cup changed all that.
Raina brought up his first ODI ton against a rather hapless Hong Kong side in Karachi, combining with Dhoni for a 166-run partnership that set up a 256-run victory. Raina followed it up with a 69-ball 85 against Pakistan, where he was also promoted to No. 3, this time partnering with Virender Sehwag as they made short work of their target of 300.
Raina's rich form continued as he brought up another century in the tournament in a chase against Bangladesh a couple of days later. His 116 off 107 balls had 11 fours and three sixes as he, along with Gambhir, overhauled Bangladesh's 283 with 40 balls to spare. He didn't stop there - a half-century against Sri Lanka in a 308-run chase put India in the final and at the end of it all he finished as the tournament's second-best batsman with 372 runs from six innings at an average of 74.40.
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Since his early days in the Indian team, Raina has played the role of a finisher in a number of games. Only 19 years old, he rose to the occasion during England's tour of India in 2006, when he smashed an 89-ball 81 after India were reeling at 92 for 5 in their 226-run chase.
After his memorable Asia Cup in 2008, he impressed with half-centuries in chases against Sri Lanka and England later that year. In 2010, he came into India's home series against Australia with a string of low scores but, faced with a target of 289, in the second ODI in Visakhapatnam, he plundered an unbeaten 71 off 47, replete with nine fours and one six, to take India to a win.
Having built a strong reputation as a T20 batsman in the IPL, Raina proved it in India colours, masterminding a 199-run chase to hand India a thrilling last-ball finish in the third T20I in Sydney in 2016. India were under immense pressure after Kohli's dismissal in the 15th over, leaving them needing 53 off 31 balls. Raina soaked up the pressure, hitting boundaries and making Australia pay for their silly errors on the field. With 18 runs needed off the last over, Yuvraj started off by hitting a six and a four, and with four runs needed off the last ball to win, Raina punched one over point for a boundary and sealed the game. He finished unbeaten on 49 off 25 balls.
2010 T20 World Cup century
One of Raina's most memorable knocks is his first and only T20I century at the 2010 World Cup. He started off jittery, struggling against short pitched deliveries, mistiming shots and getting extra lives on his way to the landmark. But he got better as the innings progressed and once the spinners came on, he was unstoppable.
Raina bludgeoned 101 off 60 balls, slamming nine fours and five sixes. At the time, he was only the third player to score a T20I international century. Later that year, he would go on to become the first India batsman to score a century in all three formats, with a ton on Test debut.
The outstanding fielder
With speed, skill and brilliant reflexes, Raina had one of the safest pair of hands in cricket. A "you remind me of me" compliment to Raina, from Jonty Rhodes, one of the all-time greats, is a testament to that.
One memorable moment from his younger days was during the Multan ODI against Pakistan in 2006, when then-captain Rahul Dravid placed him at short point for Kamran Akmal. The very next ball the batsman cut without taking proper caution and Raina was there to gleefully gobble up the catch. Later that year, he impressed with another brilliant move against Australia, when he flew in to catch Simon Katich at point. The diving low catch became something of a Raina trademark.
As a fielder, Raina could sense split-second opportunities. Like the one that resulted in Ross Taylor's run-out in the 2016 T20 World Cup. Raina had just bowled a ball to Corey Anderson, who had knocked it down the ground to Raina's left. Taylor thought there was a run in it and was already out of his crease, but before anyone knew what was happening, Raina tumbled after the ball, grabbed it, and still in the middle of regaining his balance, flicked it back onto the stumps at the non-strikers' end for a direct hit.
Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo