The first Indian player to score a century in all three formats of the game, Suresh Raina has been one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball. His contribution to Indian cricket has been immense and noteworthy. Suresh Raina announced his retirement on Saturday evening, which brought an end to one of the most stellar careers the game ever witnessed. Although he couldn’t do much in the longest format, the left-hander was one of MS Dhoni’s main players as far as limited-overs cricket was concerned. His valuable contributions down the order are still remembered and had a huge impact on the game. As the dogged batsman calls time on his memorable career, we look at some crucial knocks that made the determined batsman among the most dangerous players that ever wielded the bat in limited-overs cricket.
83 vs England, Dharamsala 2012-13
India were 3-1 up in the series and the fifth ODI saw both India and England face off at the iconic HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. England elected to bowl first on a bowler-friendly wicket and had India in deep trouble at 24-3. 24-3 soon became 49-4 as a well-set Gautam Gambhir made his way back for 24.
MS Dhoni too soon departed as India were in deep trouble at 79-5. But Suresh Raina, who was the only recognized batsman remaining, took the game to the opposition and on a difficult wicket to bat on, kept on playing his shots. Wickets kept on falling at the other end but Raina seemed to be batting on a different strip altogether. Raina scored a respectable 83 runs of 98 balls and helped India post 226 runs on the board.
Although England won the game quite comprehensively in the end by 7 wickets and with 16 balls to spare, it was Raina’s brilliant innings on a difficult wicket that will be remembered for a long time.
106 vs Sri Lanka, Dhaka 2009-10
India met Sri Lanka in the final of the tri-nation tournament between the two nations and Bangladesh with the latter getting eliminated in the group stage. Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bowl first against India and India again found themselves in trouble at 16-3 with all the big guns like Gambhir, Kohli, and Yuvraj back in the shed. Dhoni’s wicket followed and the score was soon 47-4. Virender Sehwag was still at the crease when Suresh Raina walked out to bat and the duo were the last hope for India to put a respectable total on board.
Virender Sehwag played a quickfire knock of 42 but even he fell leaving India in tatters at 60/5. Again the onus was on Suresh Raina to stabilize the Indian innings and take India towards a fighting total. And Raina obliged, forming a century partnership with Ravindra Jadeja and then adding a crucial 47 runs with Harbhajan Singh.
Suresh Raina backed himself and played his shots by smashing the Sri Lankan bowlers to all parts of the ground. Once again, he removed India out of a hole, and due to his brilliant 106 runs of 115 balls, India were able to score 245 runs in their 50 overs. Although Sri Lanka chased the target and won the game, Suresh Raina’s innings was recognized by one and all and this is when he really began to cement his position in the Indian team.
101 vs South Africa, Gros Islet 2010
This innings from Suresh Raina came in the group stages of the 2010 T20 World Cup in the West Indies. India elected to bat first against South Africa and got off to a bad start as Murali Vijay was dismissed on the very first ball. That brought Suresh Raina out to bat and he immediately got down to business.
Hitting the South African bowlers to all parts of the ground, Suresh Raina scored an immaculate century, becoming the first Indian player to score a T20I century. His 101 runs came in just 60 balls including 9 fours and 5 sixes. Suresh Raina’s blitzkrieg helped India post a mammoth 186-5 in their 20 overs. It proved to be too much for South Africa in the end as they lost the game by 14 runs and Suresh Raina was adjudged the man of the match for his brilliant century.
110* vs Zimbabwe, Eden Park 2015
India faced Zimbabwe in the group stages of the 2015 World Cup. Thanks to a brilliant hundred from Brendon Taylor, Zimbabwe posted a challenging total of 287 in their 50 overs. India got off to a bad start as both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were back in the hut with the score 21-2. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane tried to consolidate the Indian innings with a good half-century partnership but even they fell later, putting India in a spot of bother at 91-4 with only MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina left as specialist batsmen.
Raina and Dhoni had a great understanding between them thanks to their days in the yellow jersey at the Chennai Super Kings. Thus they first ran hard between the wickets and slowly but surely kept the scoreboard ticking. When they both got their eye in, they started pressing the accelerator and began to find gaps.
Suresh Raina scored a brilliant century (110* runs off 104 balls) with 9 fours and 4 sixes. MS Dhoni too remained unbeaten on 85 off 76 balls and it was a fantastic partnership between the duo that ensured that India did not face a shock defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe.
100 vs England, Cardiff 2014
India faced England in the second ODI of the five-match ODI series at Cardiff with the first match at Bristol being washed out due to rain. India were hopeful of having a better series in the limited-overs after suffering a 4-1 hammering in the Test series.
India got off to a bad start with both stars Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli back in the pavilion early. Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane tried to steady the ship of the Indian innings by a good partnership but even they fell later, and India looked jittery at 132-4. This is when Suresh Raina walked out to bat and completely changed the momentum of the game.
Suresh Raina added 144 runs with MS Dhoni for the fifth wicket and scored his hundred off just 75 balls, taking the attack to the likes of James Anderson and Chris Woakes. Dhoni also brought up a well-made half-century and their stand helped India post a formidable total of 304 in their 50 overs. It was too much for England in the end as India won the game and the win set them up nicely in the end to win the ODI series 3-1.