Does Suresh Raina fit the bill of India captain?

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 10:00 [IST]
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Does Raina fit the bill of Ind captain?

Mumbai, June 1: Indian middle order bat, part-time off-spinner and superlative in-fielder Suresh Raina belongs to an elite group of 21 Indian players - those who have been bestowed with the honour of leading the national side. Indeed, in mid May 2010, he headed a motley crew of Indian youngsters in a triangular series against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

However, his win percentage in that forgetful tournament was a mere 25, managing to notch up just one victory in the four matches India played. Now as the side gets set to embark on a tour of the Carribean, Raina has been called upon to once more don the skipper's cap and hopefully make amends for his past failure.

But the southpaw is only the third-choice captain for this overseas visit after his more successful fellow-skippers M S Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir dropped out with fatigue and injury, thanks to a grueling IPL schedule and the World Cup that preceded it. And just as was the case with India's visit of Zimbabwe last year, Raina has to make do with a largely second-string unit, bereft of the experience and prowess of a whole host of senior players.

Raina will have a lot to prove in his esteemed position also given that at 24 years of age, he is one of India's youngest stand-in skippers. Has he matured enough to handle the emotionally and psychologically demanding responsibilities which are part and parcel of the job? He would almost assuredly have to lead from the front by bolstering up the middle order and rendering the impetus to launch out towards big totals or stiff chases.

But to begin with, his wishy-washy batting form over the last two years, at least at the international level, leave a fair amount to be desired. His last one-day century came last year. However, it was against a not-so-hot minnows side in Bangladesh. But then, being a bench warmer for the group stages of the World Cup, he made the most of his opportunities in the knock out phase, scoring a crucial 34 off 28 balls against Australia and another vital 36 versus Pakistan in the semi-final.

It is just such verve that he will have to tap into during the upcoming trip to the West Indies. But then again, his performance overseas has been quite dismal. In the high-octane one-day series against South Africa in the Rainbow Nation earlier this year, he was able to do precious little, scoring an aggregate of 111 in 5 matches at an average of merely 22.20.

He is thus one player who hasn't performed his best work yet and is still to tap into his true potential. Will the surfaces of the West Indies provide the milieu for him to achieve that? After all, he went to Shirdi to pray for a successful series and propitiate the gods whose intervention he will certainly need in what promises to be tightly-contested matches against the Windies.

Oneindia Cricket

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