Sunday, 30 October 2011



Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. Two young Indian batsmen with completely different techniques, playing styles and temperament, yet two players having a lot in common. Both youngsters were identified at the U19 World Cup, both made their ODI debut against Sri Lanka, both were integral parts of the World Cup victory, both are billed to be the Future Indian captain and both of them carry the heavy burden of expectation, to be the match-winner for Indian every single time. Here is a look at these two cricketers who will lead India into the future – Kohli & Raina – the right & left of India’s future.

Most Indian cricket fans may have first heard of Virat Kohli in March 2008 when India won the U19 World Cup under his leadership. As captain, he led from the front scoring 235 runs in six matches with a healthy average of over 47. It was in the same year that a 19-year-old Kohli got the opportunity to be a part of the national ODI team when he was selected for the Idea Cup series against Sri Lanka when both Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were injured. He managed to impress with his performance but the return to fitness of the two more experienced players meant Kohli had to wait for another year to make his mark in cricket. But when he did, he did it with style helping India win over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in late 2009 and early 2010. He again proved his worth in the Emerging Players Tournament in 2009 where he was the leading run-scorer of the series with 398 from 7 matches and then earned a recall to the ODI team. Since then he has become a regular feature of the Indian batting line up in limited over cricket.

Most Indian cricket fans may have heard of Suresh Raina in February 2004 during U19 World Cup, where he scored three half centuries, including a 90 scored off only 38 balls but India failed to reach the final, or maybe in 2005 when he was selected for the Challenger Trophy in where both Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were unavailable. It was in the same year that a 19-year-old Raina got the opportunity to be a part of the national ODI team when he was selected for the Indian Oil Cup series against Sri Lanka. He had a forgettable debut getting out on a first-ball duck to Muralitharan and an overall disappoint series after which his selection in the playing XI was erratic, depending on injuries to other players. It was only in 2008, post a successful IPL run, that he finally found firm footing in the team with his maiden century in the Asia Cup and other impressive performances to gain three Man of the Match awards. Since then he has become a regular feature of the Indian batting line up in limited over cricket.
Over the last five years, especially after the 2007 World Cup debacle, Indian selectors have made it a point to infuse young blood in the team as and when the opportunity offers. With injuries to regular batsmen and some of the seniors being rested in limited over cricket, there has been scope for younger batsmen to emerge in to their own. Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Murali Vijay, Subhramaniam Badrinath, Wriddhiman Saha, Manoj Tiwary and more recently Ajinkya Rahane, all of them made it to the team on the same principal. But no other batsmen have managed to cement their place in the tem as strongly as Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. Though they are yet to find their niche in the Test team due to the presence of illustrious seniors, both of them have been given Test caps. Today, both of them can be considered as regular batsmen in the ODI team and both have done extremely well to deserve that position. Let us have a look at how their figures compare in the 50-over game –



When it comes to statistics, there is again not much difference between the two players. While Raina has played almost double the number of matches Kohli has played, the difference in runs remains 500 odd runs. While Kohli has a much better average than Raina, Raina has a superior strike-rate. Their highest score is quite similar as are the number of half-centuries. The only notable difference is the number of centuries but that is because of the batting position, while Kohli comes in up the order mostly at Number 4. Raina is a lower-order batsman coming at Number 6 or 7. Personally, I believe that there is no comparison between the two and nor is there any competition. Both play a different role in the team and there should not be any rivalry. For instance earlier this year during the World Cup, Kohli was preferred over Raina in the playing XI for the first couple of games and there were theories floating about how they will have to battle it out for their place. However as the tournament progressed, Raina was brought in lower down the order, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Looking to the future, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina are undoubtedly two of India’s brightest prospects. They are the batsmen on whom the successful transition of Team India sans its stars depends upon. I am sure both Kohli and Raina are capable of carrying the burden of a nation’s expectations and cross the finish line with it. Here is hoping that Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina have a long, successful career ahead of them!

1 comment:

  1. Although talented, I have some reservations about both of them for the Test team including Kohli.
    The problem I see is that both have been brought- up in a rather unconventional manner, not in a manner in which lets say a Laxman, Ganguly were brought up. I mean, they(Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly and more others) played enough First class Cricket to merit a place in the Test side. Both Kohli and Raina are not playing enough First Class Cricket. Playing ODI Cricket, even when its played overseas, won't help them to become good Test Cricketers.
    On the other hand India has the likes of Pujara (injured), Badrinath, Rahane, R Sharma, who deserve a chance 'ahead' of Kohli and Raina. I saw Pujara's debut 70 odd at Bangalore and that was a privilege. Cricketers like him, who have played more FC Cricket deserve chance to be in the side ahead of those who have not played enough FC Cricket.

    (sorry for a longish comment but I feel strongly for them)