India dominated the recent ODI series against South Africa, winning it 5-1, thanks to some top-class bowling by Indian spinners (Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal) and world-class batting by Indian captain Virat Kohli.
Both the spinners took a total of 33 wickets in the series (Kuldeep picking 17 and Chahal bagging 16). On the other hand, Virat Kohli created a world record by scoring 558 runs in the series, which includes 3 centuries.
But the thing that India needs to worry about is their middle order batting combination. During the whole series, India struggled with the middle order batting. In few of the matches, while batting first India fell short of 30-40 runs in the end overs as none of the middle order batsmen could get going. After a good start by the opening batsmen, India is not able to capitalize in the middle and end overs.
Having Suresh Raina, India’s T20 specialist back in the team could solve this problem. Raina is an experienced middle-order batsman, who can handle pressure situations and can also hit the ball out of the park when needed. Raina is also good in running between the wickets and can put pressure on the opposition.
Another than this, having Raina in the side means having one more left-handed batsman. Currently, the team only has Shikhar Dhawan as a left-handed batsman, who bats up the order. Having Raina in the middle order gives the team another left-handed batsman which would allow them to take advantage of left-hand right-hand batting combination. It is hard for the opposition bowlers to settle down and adjust their line-length when a left and right-hand batsmen are at the crease.
Former Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar also mentioned this back in November 2017, when India was playing against New Zealand. During a pre-match TV show, Gavaskar said “When you are looking at the middle muddle (India’s middle order), India should be looking at a left-hander. There is nobody (no left-hander) apart from Shikhar Dhawan, nobody else in the middle order. Maybe whether you are looking at Suresh Raina or Yuvraj Singh who can come in and bowl the odd over…..I know these are temporary measures, but I think you have got to look at someone, who can bat left-handed“.