Oz tour of India: Prolific Raina a viable selection option
When it comes to the shorter versions, Suresh Raina is vital to Team India's scheme of things.
A consistent overall performance in the recent One-day series against England -- where he amassed 277 runs in five matches (@92.33), including four boundaries -- further bolstered his reputation as a good ODI player.
Besides, it helped him get into top 10 in the ICC ODI rankings, for the first time in his career.
Image: Suresh Raina
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Raina hasn't done enough in Tests to impress the selectors
However, when it comes to Test cricket, Suresh Raina is yet to cement his place in the national side, this despite scoring a hundred on debut -- 120 against Sri Lanka at the Sinhalese Sports Club in July 2010 -- and averaging a staggering in his first three Tests.
The 26-year-old has appeared in 14 Tests since that prolific run, and save the series against West Indies -- where he made 232 runs in three matches (@46.40) -- Raina hasn't done enough to impress the selectors.
For that matter, he is yet to score a second Test hundred.
A disastrous show during India's tour of England in 2011, during which he managed just 105 runs in four matches (including a 78 at Lord's), resulted in him being on the sidelines for a year.
And when he did manag to get another chance, in the home series against a weak New Zealand side last year, he failed to make the most of the opportunity, resulting in his exclusion for the home series against England.
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Raina looked at Irani Cup as a good opportunity
Desperate to get back into the Test side, Raina looked at the Irani Cup against Mumbai as a 'good opportunity.'
And to his credit, he made the most of the opportunity, scoring an aggressive 139 in Rest of India's first innings. The knock left the young bat relieved.
"I batted well," he said, shortly after the day's play.
"I was not thinking about the hundred," he continued, adding, "I was looking to stay focused and play it session by session, at least till the tea interval."
"But it's important for me to score runs and get big knocks as they give you confidence when you play international cricket. I have done that in the past and have scored two or three double hundreds in first class cricket."
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'These big knocks will make me mentally tough for Test cricket'
"I think it is these big knocks that will make me mentally tough for Test cricket."
Raina's innings include 14 boundaries and five six, and it is while trying to hit another big shot that he ended up getting out, caught at long-on. His was one of the four wickets that fell in a canter in the half hour after lunch, as Mumbai eventually bowled out RoI for 526.
However, Raina didn't regret the lack of composure, rather lapse of concentration that cost him his wicket.
"I had to go for my shots," he explained, "The tail could score a bit but I couldn't have only defended."
"I needed to score runs as quickly as possible."
"Though maybe I missed out on a double hundred but the most important thing for me is the team. I am not disappointed to be honest".
The UP player albeit seemed satisfied with his own form.
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'If I get a chance against Australia, I'll prove myself'
"I am hitting the ball well," said Raina, adding, "I missed out on a hundred in the one-dayers against England (he got into the 80s twice) and so there was a desire to get one in this game."
"And now that I have got one I believe this innings will make me tough, help me play more big innings and get me more opportunities."
Though a long shot for the upcoming home series against Australia, Raina, bolstered by consistent scores in recent times, remained confident.
"If I get a chance against Australia, I'll prove myself," he said.
With the Indian batting in disarray this timely innings might just go in Raina's favour ahead of the Selection Committee meeting to select the squad for the said series.
Photographs: Pal Pillai/Getty Images