The upcoming T20I series between India and South Africa will be a big test for middle-order batsman Suresh Raina as he gets ready to make a comeback into the national team after more than a year.
Raina was named in the T20 squad for the three-match series against the Proteas starting from February 18.
During a recent interview with India Today, when Raina was asked if the T20Is series against South Africa would be a “do-or-die series” for him, he said: “Definitely. It feels like I’ve been selected to the Indian team for the first time. I have worked hard for the past two years, so when I saw my India jersey I felt a bit emotional that I got the jersey after quite a while. Like you said, the three games will be quite important. I have done well in whatever opportunities I have got (recently).
“These T20 matches are important, then Bangladesh [T20 tri-series] and then IPL. Fifty-overs does need experience – it makes a lot of difference. Because this position is such, that you’ll come to bat when the team is in trouble.”
Raina also specified that his preferred batting position in the Indian team would be Nos. 4 or 5, slots which, the southpaw felt, will allow India’s left-hand right-hand combination to thrive.
“If given a choice, I can do best at No. 4 or No. 5,” he stated. “There are five fielders inside these days, so a left-hand, right-hand combination is very useful these days. If I do well in these three games, then I’m certain I can make an ODI return too,” Raina added.
Raina, who made his ODI and T20I debuts in 2005 and 2006, was a consistent member of India’s limited-overs side until he was dropped for the Australia tour in December 2015 following a string of low scores. He was kept out of India’s tour of the USA in 2016 – for matches against West Indies – before making a brief return next year.
In January 2017, Raina scored 34, 7 and 63 in three home T20Is against England but then missed subsequent matches in the same format in the West Indies and Sri Lanka, and at home against Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.