On last Monday the Indian cricketer Suresh Raina posted his highest score in T20s, against Bengal at Eden Gardens. An unbeaten 59-ball 126, laden with 13 fours and seven sixes, was alluring enough which draw the comparison with his 87 off 25 balls for Chennai Super Kings in the 2014 IPL Qualifier 2 against Kings XI Punjab.
That was a knock of various classes, against a far better bowling attack. This can be perhaps, Raina will cherish this innings more, that can be helped him return to form post an elongated slump.
Out of the Team India fold, Raina had been having a pretty modest domestic season – just 105 runs at 11.66 in the Ranji Trophy and 55 runs in five matches in the zonal league of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He was without a half-century in 10 innings across formats. Out-of-form batsmen usually hope for ‘one big knock’ to get back into the groove. Raina got that five days before the IPL auction.
This is now the forthcoming IPL auction which took place on 27th January to 28th which is very significances’ for the future of the player Suresh Raina.
He has already been retained by Super Kings and this is a massive scheme of things, that can trigger a revival. “(The) IPL is still far away. We still have a lot of cricket to be played. We have got the South Africa series; the T20 is there. Then we have the Asia Cup,” Raina said after the match.
The Bengal bowling, save Ashoke Dinda, was the walker. Mukesh Kumar conceded 63 runs in his four overs. Eight wides and two no-balls were bowled during Uttar Pradesh’s innings, the post they batted first and galloped to the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy’s highest ever total – 235/3 in 20 overs.
Raina was consistently delivered length and also width to free his arms.
But the bad balls now required to be put away. Suresh Raina this time also showcased his perfect timing of batting and match.
Various times, he shuffled across the stumps that helped deliveries to the fence. He arrives at the crease in the first over of the match which somehow went on the offensive.
Raina targeted the weak link. And Kumar was taken to the cleaners in the second over as the southpaw hit two fours and two sixes. Medium pacer Sayan Ghosh arrives and Raina struck two fours and a six in his first over. His century arrives with the 49 balls, his fourth in this format.
His batting in this format is always expressive and good as his 4,540 runs in 161 IPL matches would attest. He has unlocked the key to T20 batting: “You have to make the most of the first six overs; that’s the basis of playing T20 cricket.”
Monday’s hundred was all the more special as Raina able to do this in front of his idol, Sourav Ganguly. “It was good to see your idol sitting. To have a legend like him around is great,” he said. He got a standing ovation from Ganguly post-Suresh Raina reached to his ton.
Going through a rough patch, Raina’s mantra was to believe in his process. “I have been working on my game, my fitness. When I came to Kolkata, I had a good net session with the coach. I was hitting the ball well.”
Now, regarding the Indian team, the player Suresh Raina hasn’t played a T20 International for close to one year. His last ODI was way back in October 2015. “I will make a comeback very soon. (I am) really enjoying my batting,” he said.
Raina’s batting regression coincided with the decline in his fitness. Once the fittest cricketer around, he initially somehow failed the yo-yo test. The 31-year-old, Suresh Raina, though, put things in perspective. “No, I had a few niggles in my body. But thanks to the NCA and the BCCI; they gave me 10 days. I went there and did pretty well. My attitude is still the same. Sometimes you need to groom yourself. In the last couple of months, I didn’t play for India but I became more mature. I became more solid.”
Brief scores: Uttar Pradesh 235/3 in 20 overs (S Raina 126*, A Nath 80) beat Bengal 160 all out in 16.1 overs (S Goswami 57; K Yadav 4/26) by 75 runs
Death-over charge ensures Rajasthan’s win
Death-overs charge from Rajasthan’s seventh-wicket pair of Deepak Chahar and Chetan Bist, on the heels of Aditya Garhwal’s all-round performance, secured a four-wicket win for their side against Jharkhand.
Brief scores: Jharkhand 157/5 in 20 overs (Virat Singh 43; A Garhwal 2/15) lost to Rajasthan 158/6 in 19.1 overs (A Garhwal 43) by 4 wickets
Gurkeerat, Yuvraj sparkle
Shreyas Iyer’s 44-ball 79 not out went in vain, as Gurkeerat Singh’s blistering 18-ball 43, along with Yuvraj Singh’s 34-ball 40, pulled things off for Punjab in a high-scoring affair against Mumbai.
Brief scores: Mumbai 198/4 in 20 overs (S Iyer 79*) lost to Punjab 199/7 in 19.2 overs (Gurkeerat Singh 43; Shivam Dube 3/27) by 3 wickets.
Bhati’s four seal Delhi’s win
Subodh Bhati bagged four wickets and Dhruv Shorey made 74 off 56 balls to secure Delhi’s two-wicket win over Baroda.
Brief scores: Baroda 140/8 in 20 overs (Kedar Devdhar 77; S Bhati 4/20) lost to Delhi 143/8 in 19.1 overs (D Shorey 74; Lukman Meriwala 4/24) by 2 wickets
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