India's dashing south-paw Suresh Raina turned 25 on Sunday. Having played in 130 ODIs for India, his form, average, abilities on the field as well as his age continue to indicate many more years of contributing to Indian cricket.
A splendid domestic career for Uttar Pradesh and in the national U-19 team, Raina has been a prolific cricketer in his own right. An aggressive style of batting catapulted him to the status of an ODI specialist in both, the domestic as well as in the international scene.
His first-class debut came for UP in the 2002/2003 season at an age of 16 and he has nine centuries and as many as 31 boundaries to his credit since. With a highest individual score of 204*, Raina stamped his class to become a dreaded customer for bowlers regardless of their figures and experience.
The transition from the domestic scene to the international circuit however, was not the easiest for this player from Muradnagar in Ghaziabad. His debut match against Sri Lanka at Dambulla in 2005 saw him play two balls and return to the pavilion, Raina has since managed to cement his place innings by innings. He had 89 runs from his first five international matches although he batted in the middle-order.
Raina's first half-century (81*) came almost a year after his debut, against England in Faridabad. Coming in to bat after a flurry of wickets, Raina stabilised India's innings despite a moderate target of 227. He took the team home with his innings that eight boundaries and a six with a strike rate of 91.
While Raina followed it up with a 61 in the next match against the same opposition in Margao, it was Karachi that witnessed his first ODI century. Batting against a weak Hong Kong in 2008, Raina smacked seven boundaries and five sixes to reach the three-figure mark in just 68 balls.
While it was being suspected that Raina can play the big knock only against smaller opposition, having made runs at a ferocious pace proved otherwise. An electric fielder and a good option to have as a part-time bowler, Raina has given his side a variety of options as well.
He has led the Indian team in tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe, has been part of the team that has won the T20 World Cup and the ICC World Cup and continues to look set to take on the opposition for India for many years to come.