Dhoni’s Man Friday comes of age

Raina

Comparisons with Brian Lara by someone with as trained an eye for talent as former Indian coach Greg Chappell notwithstanding, Suresh Raina has always managed to attract eyeballs and admiration with his overall skills on a cricket field.

Right from the time he made the cut from age-level to international cricket by the tender age of 18, the left-hander from Ghaziabad was earmarked for a bright future in international cricket, and he went onto earn plaudits from many experts around the world. Now in his fifth year at the highest level, the 23-year-old Raina not only seems to have realized his potential, he also has emerged as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's go-to man in all formats of the game.

And whether it was his quickfire 86 in the first Test, the crucial wicket of a well-set Ricky Ponting late during the first day's play at Bangalore or his destructive half-century in the second ODI, the prodigiously talented youngster came to the fore for his skipper at crucial junctures against the hapless Australians.

Though Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh had provided a rather solid foundation for the pyrotechnics that followed off Raina's bat at Visakhapatnam, the nonchalance with which the Uttar Pradesh left-hander finished off the contest was symptomatic of the unadulterated confidence that he plays his cricket with these days.

Their maiden appearances in international cricket may have come only seven months apart—a sign of Dhoni's meteoric rise since debut — while Raina, six years junior to his skipper in age, has taken much longer to cement his place in the Indian team, he certainly intends on making up for lost time. The buzz in the camp has been that the youngster has gained the complete trust of Dhoni. That he is skippered by the same man while playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL has certainly contributed a lot to the steadfast relationship between the two.

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