Its been 9 years, since India won the Cricket World Cup defeating Sri Lanka on 2 April, 2011. The images and visuals of MS Dhoni’s finishing shot and the festivities, joy and jubilation post the victory are etched in our memories. Today we look at Suresh Raina, who contributed with all but significant knocks in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the World Cup 2011.
A Quick Fire Knock In The Quarter-Finals
Chasing a target of 261 runs against the former defending champions, Australia, the momentum appeared to be in India’s favour, with Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh at the crease. But, as things were looking good, India lost its 5th wicket at 187, captain MS Dhoni caught at point by Michael Clarke.
A deafening silence engulfed the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, the venue for the all important match.
The spectators in the jam packed stadium and the entire nation glued to its television sets were drawn to the edge of their seats, their hearts filled with expectations sunk in apprehension of the undesirable. The player walking into the centre, was the last recognized batsman.
With India still needing 74 runs from 75 balls, Yuvraj Singh was joined by Suresh Raina, who had just played only one match in the quadrennial extravaganza. The two players were capable to enough to chase down any score when in form.
But, could they get better of their nerves in a quarter-final against the mighty Australian bowling line-up. Besides, Suresh Raina was not in best of his form; in the match against West Indies he had scored just one run.
Raina was up against fast bowlers like Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson. The whole nation desperately wanted Raina to just stay on the crease and help Yuvraj to take his to team to the semi finals, knowing his vulnerability to short balls. But Raina surprised everyone and came all guns blazing.
He scored an unbeaten 34 of 28 balls at a strike rate of 121.43 with two fours and a six. Had India lost a wicket, the chance of having a new world champion since 1999 would have probably ceased.
Raina Helped Post a Defending Total In The Semis
In the semi finals against arch rival Pakistan, India again lost its 5th wicket on 187, when Sachin was caught by Afridi at covers. Indian captain Dhoni was on the crease and struggling to make runs, when Raina came to bat. Pakistan regained control by taking wickets at regular intervals even after Indian openers gave their team a brisk start.
When Dhoni departed in 42nd over, India was struggling at 205 for 6 with 8 over to go. Raina held his nerve and managed two small partnerships first of 31 runs with Harbhajan Singh and then of 20 runs with Zaheer Khan and added 56 runs in last 8 overs. These partnerships helped India to put a target of 261 for Pakistan.
Raina scored unbeaten 36 runs of 39 balls and India won the match by 29 runs.
All But Significant Innings
These two innings might not be very significant in terms of number of runs scored. But they are as important as any big hundred as those important runs were scored at a time, when the team needed them the most.
The two innings with different strike rates show why Suresh Raina in world cup 2011 was a big match winner. India would have never lifted the world cup had Raina not shown the temperament and class of his batting.
Interestingly Raina was dropped in the final but these two small yet important knocks pushed India into the final of the world cup.