“It feels like I am wearing India jersey for the first time,” says the 31-year-old southpaw Suresh Raina on his return to the Indian mix after a complete year. He last played a T20 International for India exactly a year ago against England, in February 2017. Indian captain Virat Kohli has made it clear that he is a forward-thinking captain. So in such a case scenario, will the 3 T20I series against South Africa be Raina’s last throw of the dice? That is what it seems! This also means there will be immense pressure on Raina when he takes the strike in the 1st T20I.
When we speak of ODIs, it seems it is already curtains for the 223-ODI veteran Raina, who last played a 50-over international in the blues way back in 2015. With the 2019 Cricket World Cup around a year away, it is next to impossible for Raina to make the cut, considering the likes of Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav in the middle-order.
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 17, 2018
But after a great domestic run at the Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy for Uttar Pradesh, Raina is back in the blue mix for T20Is. In fact, Raina has been working hard to improve his fitness as well. It seems all his hard work has paid off at least for the moment. For the Indian cricketers who have been on the tour since the Test matches, T20Is will be an opportunity for them to feel stress-free, but for Raina, everything depends on the one or two opportunities he would be presented with. He has to make the most of them stay in the reckoning for the future.
All eyes will be focussed on what slot does Raina gets. He is a two-down batsman but India may also use him as a floater depending on the situation.