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Suresh Raina feels he is what India needs at number 4 and here’s why he might be right

"‘Youngsters’, that’s the buzz word at the moment. But at 32 Suresh Raina is not past an age that he can be ignored just for the number of years he has lived"

“I can be the No. 4 for India. I have batted in that slot before and delivered” Suresh Raina told The Hindu in a recent interview. Now one may think it isn’t a wise thing to project oneself so boldly in Indian cricket. You never know what the selectors might find offending (Remember Rayudu saga). But it seems the frustration of being ignored is speaking for Raina.

The man occupying the slot, Rishabh Pant is still in his early days but he would surely want to forget his recent performances. He has played 12 ODIs and 20 T20s and is averaging in early 20s. His strike rate, the much hyped part of his game is just 121 in T20s. In contrast Suresh Raina averages 35 in ODIs and just under 30 in T20s. His strike rate is better than Pant at 135 in T20s and he has maintained that over a period of 78 games. Now one may debate Pant is just 21 but that’s no excuse. This is professional cricket we are talking about and not babysitting. But is Suresh Raina a worthy replacement? Shouldn’t we be looking at youngsters? ‘Youngsters’, that’s the buzz word at the moment. But at 32 Suresh Raina is not past an age that he can be ignored just for the number of years he has lived. And add to that he is a terrific fielder.

It’s beyond understanding why the management is so determined to groom pant for number 4. T20 world cup isn’t that far and we need someone who is ready to take up responsibility. Suresh Raina is one name which should definitely be in contention. And if it’s about keeping wickets, one can say with utmost confidence that MS Dhoni would beat Pant any day at that. Why can’t the team just look at the best man available for the job? You never know how far a sportsperson would go. Perhaps Pant would never be able to cement his place or maybe he would become the backbone of Indian batting. But nothing can be said with certainty. So why not use the best resource available?

Suresh Raina had something to say for MS Dhoni as well in his interview for The Hindu. "He is still fit, still a terrific wicket-keeper and still the greatest finisher in the game. Dhoni will be an asset for India in the T20 World Cup."

One thing which is very apparent in the current batting line up of Indian team is lack of experience in the middle and lower order. There is no one after the top 3 who can keep the fighting spirit alive for the team in a tense situation (Recall world cup semifinal).

Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni have the numbers behind them and fitness to continue till the T20 world cup. The selectors need to give up their love for young talent and evaluate every guy on the parameters of performance only. There are not many games left to fit in a player in the squad. Every player needs time to get used to things unless he is MS Dhoni who can just walk in after a slumber and perform.