Suresh Raina sat on the sidelines for a year as India, under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, began cementing themselves as the top team in world cricket. The left-hander regularly put up pictures and videos of him working hard to make a comeback to the Indian side and the handwork paid off after he was included in India's T20I squad for the series against South Africa. Raina returned with a lot of positive intent in his first match back at Johannesburg, scoring a quickfire 15 off 7 balls after India had lost Rohit Sharma cheaply. But the southpaw saved the best for the last as he smashed a brilliant 43 off 27 balls to help India post a competitive total on board in the final T20I. Not just that, Raina also chipped in with the ball, returning with figures of 1/27 off his 3 overs and was rewarded with the Man of the Match award in Newlands on Saturday.
Former, current cricketers and fans were all praise for Raina and congratulated him for a wonderful comeback.
what a come back...congratulations very well played.good to see you back in team congrats on winning one day & t20 series.good luck.— Kamran Akmal (@KamiAkmal23) February 24, 2018
Congratulations team India and well com back my dear bro— KARIM SADIQ (@karimkhansadiq) February 25, 2018
Back after an year, @ImRaina wins Man-of-the-Match in the series decider. Make that spot your own now for a long time!— Saurabh Malhotra (@MalhotraSaurabh) February 24, 2018
Congratulations for d spectacular performance by #TeamIndia & wht a cmback by you @ImRaina An all-round performance. A crucial pertnership between you & @SDhawan25 Want to see you in d ODI squad soon playing #WorldCup2018 @BCCI @imVkohli @RaviShastriOfc @msdhoni— Samrat Guha (@SamratGuha14) February 25, 2018
Raina made it amply clear from the get-go, he was not going to hang about and try and play for his spot in the team. Instead, he adopted an all-out attack strategy and took on the opposition bowlers.
"You need to show intent in the first 6 overs. When you get the ball in your area, you hit it (on the first-ball six)," Raina said after India clinched the three-match T20I series against South Africa 2-1
"The way we played in Tests and One-Days, we looked so calm. Things looked up to the mark. Credit goes to the support staff, who gave us a lot of confidence to express ourselves. Bowling to two lefties after the 7th over gave me a lot of confidence. I have been working hard on my bowling, hopefully you'll see more in the future," he added.
Raina's innings was crucial to India's cause in the final T20I, especially considering that India lost Rohit early again and Shikhar Dhawan was struggling with his timing.
India had been put into bat and needed a good start with run-machine Virat Kohli sitting out the final match.
On a pitch that had some bounce and movement, Raina exhibited great footwork as he took on the South African bowlers. Raina led India's charge in the powerplay as the visitors scored 57 runs for the loss of one wicket with Raina accounting for 32 runs off just 17 balls.
In the end, Raina was dismissed by Tabraiz Shamsi but not before doing ample damage and giving India a brilliant platform to post a winning score.