At one time, he was considered to be a long-course horse of Indian batting. Former India coach Greg Chappell had backed him to the hilt although it took him some time to get settled in international cricket. In 2010, he became the first Indian batsman to hit a hundred in T20Is when he scored 101 against South Africa at the ICC World T20. Raina was a member of the World Cup-winning team in 2011 and besides international cricket, the left-hand batsman has also excelled under Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.
However, Raina’s weakness against short ball got exposed over time and despite being a good fielder in his earlier days, the 32-year-old eventually lost his place in the Indian team because of fitness concerns as well. He last appeared in the blues in England in July 2018. Raina recently underwent knee surgery and still believes that he can return to play for India and solve their No.4 problem in the batting order. The veteran is eyeing a spot in the Indian squad ahead of the 2020 T20 World Cup.
Raina recently asked why Dhoni was sent late in the batting order after India had a top-order collapse in the semi-final of the World Cup against New Zealand at Old Trafford in July. Chasing 241 to win, India were five for three and then 71 for 5 when the veteran came out to bat. He led a fightback with Ravindra Jadeja by scoring a half-century but a terrific throw from Martin Guptill ended his stay at the wicket and destroyed India’s chances of making the final.
‘Dhoni could have guided Pant had he come earlier
“Had he (Dhoni) come earlier, he could have guided Pant and then we still had Pandya and Jadeja. Even then he kept India in the fight till the very end and we would have won but for the direct hit from Guptill,” Raina was quoted as saying to The Hindu.
The Indian team management had come under heavy criticism for having sent Dhoni too low down the batting order and not making use of his load of experience. India lost the game by 18 runs and the experts felt had Dhoni been sent earlier, he could have played an anchor role in guiding India out of the mess.
Raina also said that Dhoni still has a lot of cricket left in him and he could still prove himself to be an asset for the team in the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia. He said Dhoni is still a terrific wicketkeeper and also called him the “best finisher” even though the former captain’s scoring pace has come under the scanner in recent times.
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