Although some new faces found their way into the Test team for Australia, there weren't many surprisingly selections as such, but for maybe the recall of Suresh Raina. Team India director Ravi Shastri had stated recently that he was working towards helping Raina regain his spot in the Test team. And while not everyone would be pleased with Raina's inclusion considering his struggles in the longer format of the game, and particularly his travails against the short ball, his great run in one-dayers in recent times has definitely helped his case. His amazing consistency could not be ignored by the selectors.
The talented left-hander made a wonderful Test debut back in 2010, against Sri Lanka at Colombo, joining the select band of Indians to register a hundred on debut. He was expected to go on to better things. Unfortunately, his career tumbled midway. The England series was a massive setback for Raina. Although he began the series with a half-century, his form tapered off as the series progressed. Not only his ability against the rising delivery, but his technique against the moving ball was also exposed. As a result of his failures, Raina soon fell out of favour with the selectors.
Although he was recalled in the Test team a couple of seasons back for the home series against New Zealand, he failed to utilise his chances. The success of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma in the period that followed meant that there was no spot for Raina in the middle order. However, the failures of the middle order batsmen in the England series, coupled with Raina's own scintillating form in the shorter formats of the game has once again brought him back in Test contention. This is a golden opportunity for the batsman to resurrect his Test career. His ODI success should give him confidence.
Even though Raina is in the team, the question as to where he bats still remains. With Virat, Pujara and Rahane all but certain of their places, the only player Raina can replace is Rohit Sharma. With Rohit struggling with injury problems, the left-hander might get a chance at number six sometime in the series. Of course, it could be the other way round, with Rohit sizzling and not giving Raina a chance at all. But, that possibility looks slim considering Rohit's away record. So Raina should fancy his chances for a couple of Tests.
In all probability, this could be Raina's last chance to cement his place in the Test team, provided he gets a chance to feature in the series. If Raina wants to look at the positives, it is the fact that he cannot have gotten a better chance to prove his Test worth. He is in the best form of his life at present, and thus high on confidence. Also, Australia is one of the toughest places to play Test cricket. If he succeeds on Aussie soil, his international career could get a new lease of life. He is already highly rated as an stroke maker in the shorter formats. But, the man with so many IPL records has himself admitted that Test cricket is the real thing.
--By A Cricket Analyst