The recently concluded T20 series against South Africa was an important one for Suresh Raina. He was returning to the Indian side after almost a year, and justified his selection with an important 27 ball 43 in the decider of the series. Promoted to number 3 in that match, he also took one wicket to play an important part in the match which sealed a series victory for India.
And coach Ravi Shastri was all praise for 31 year-old Raina after the series, calling him a ‘fearless’ cricketer. Talking about his man of the match performance, Shastri said, “He’s vastly experienced and he showed what experience can do. 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.”
Raina scored 89 runs in three T20Is at a strike rate of 153.44. Twelve fours and two sixes were included in that tally. As a result of his performances in the series, Raina has been included in the Indian T20I squad for the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka, which starts on March 6th. Raina himself spoke about his performances in the series, and about being back in the Indian team.
“I always play for the team and if we are winning trophies, individual performances will look after themselves,” he said. “Whatever opportunity I get I look to play my natural game. I enjoy the team support and it helps improve my game.” Speaking about his eventual goal of being in the ODI squad for the 2019 World Cup, Raina said, “It is important to win a trophy first and important to go out there as a team mindset. If you see the top order, they are all batting well. When you come to the middle order, MS (Dhoni) is there and Manish (Pandey) is also doing a good job.”
“So we will see where I can fit in. There are a lot of matches coming up now. Winning games is more important than being which format I am playing or not. Every Indian game is very important for me right now,” he concluded.