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An impressive 34 off 28 balls that gave much needed support to the Indian batting which crashed Australians in the quarter-final match making way for India to the semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2011. Suresh Raina did his job perfectly and strengthened his position in the Indian international cricket team.
In the words of Sharda Ugra of ESPN Cricinfo – ‘Suresh Raina represents the new age Indian cricketer. An attacking left-hander who goes for the big shots with impunity and clears the field with a swashbuckling flourish when at the top of his game, Raina is also equally capable of attracting applause as an electric fielder in the circle.’ Raina’s game yesterday stood testimony to this!
Suresh Raina is the youngest in a Kashmiri Pandit family of five children. Born on November 27, 1986 in Muradnagar, Ghaziabad, he decided to take up cricket seriously in 1999 and moved from Ghaziabad to Lucknow to attend the specialist government Sports College. He rose to become the captain of the Uttar Pradesh Under 16 cricket team. At the age of 15, he got selected for the Under 19 cricket team’s tour to England, where he made a pair of half centuries in the test matches. He toured Sri Lanka later that year with the Under 17 team. He made his Ranji Trophy debut for Uttar Pradesh against Assam in February 2003 at the age of 16. In late 2003, he toured Pakistan for the Under 19 Asian ODI Championship before being selected for the 2004 Under 19 World Cup, where he scored three half centuries, including a 90 scored off only 38 balls. He was then awarded a Border-Gavaskar scholarship to train at the Australian Cricket Academy. He was selected to participate in the Challenger Series in early 2005 and after injury to Sachin Tendulkar and suspension of captain Sourav Ganguly, Raina was selected for the Indian Oil Cup 2005 in Sri Lanka.
After some initial hiccups in finding his place in the Indian team, Raina got a chance to become a member of the Indian middle order during the 2006 tour of Pakistan. He was only required to bat in one match, in which he helped guide the latter part of the successful run chase in the fourth ODI. Upon his return to India, he was called up to the test squad, but he did not play in the test series against England. He earned his first man of the match award in the subsequent ODI series after scoring an unbeaten 81 in a successful run chase at Faridabad. On 25 June 2008, he scored his maiden hundred against Hong Kong during the 2008 Asia Cup. His 66 balls hundred was, the second fastest century in Indian ODI history at the time. He scored 84 off 69 against Pakistan and 116 off 107 against Bangladesh, in next two matches. Since then, Raina has been a member of India's full strength ODI and T20 team.In January 2010, Raina scored 106 from 115 balls in the final of the triangular ODI tournament against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh. His innings took India to 245 after they collapsed to be 5/60, but it was not enough to save the match. Raina was the third highest run scorer in the 2010 Indian Premier League and was man of the match in the final, top-scoring with 55 not out from 35 balls. With his 101 from 60 balls with five sixes and nine fours in the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 against South Africa on 2 May 2010, he became the third player to score a Twenty20 international century. Suresh Raina is steady on his way to becoming a seasoned performer. And it can be safely said that even after some terrific innings, this young gun of Indian cricket is yet to show us the best of the shots!
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