Suresh Raina made an impressive return to the Indian national team with bold batting and working for the team’s cause instead of going after securing his own place in the side. His gutsy display in the three-match T20 series in South Africa – a year after playing his last game – earned him plaudits from pundits, fans and now even the Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri.
With the series locked at 1-1, Raina played a crucial 43 run knock, from 27 balls, to help India beat South Africa by seven runs and add the T20 trophy after clinching the ODIs. For his invaluable contribution to the cause, he was handed the Man of the Match cheque.
“He’s vastly experienced and he showed what experience can do,” Shastri told India Today. “What I liked the best was he was fearless. What I liked was the intent because normally when you come back into a side after a long period of time you can be playing for your place. And that can put added pressure on you. But he went out there as if he was never out of the side and batted in that fashion. It was very good to see.”
With India’s troubles in the middle order not drawing to a close, Raina’s surge could be exactly what the team needed – especially with a year to go to the World Cup in England. Having been promoted to the No 3 spot in South Africa, Raina scored 88 runs. He now has the opportunity to continue his run scoring ability in the Nidhas Trophy which will be played in Sri Lanka and also feature Bangladesh in a T20 format.
“He (Pandya) will learn from his mistakes. The talent is there, he’s got tons of natural talent,” said Shastri. “People talk about the 20 wickets we took, but the Amla catch at Johannesburg that turned the game. That sparked off something special,” he added.