Suresh Raina scored  47 off 37 balls guiding Uttar Pradesh to maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali title © PTI
Suresh Raina scored 47 off 37 balls, guiding Uttar Pradesh to their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy title © PTI

With another loss in the bilateral series against Australia in the ongoing five-match One-Day International (ODI) series, India will need to pull up some tough chords if they need to get anywhere forward moving into 2016. In a role reversal India were set to chase a massive 349 runs by the hosts batting first. In their reply Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli gave Australia a massive scare, amassing 277 runs for the loss of just one wicket, with Dhawan and Kohli getting well-deserved hundreds. It was not until skipper MS Dhoni was out that one could notice the lack of familiarity in the middle order. India lost 5 wickets adding just  17 runs and eventually lost 9 wickets for 46 runs to get bowled out for 323. On the flip side in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2015-16 finals we saw Uttar Pradesh, led by India’s charismatic Suresh Raina, defeat two-time champions Baroda. Vishal Mehra makes a case for India discard Raina to be included in the ODI squad for future matches for the betterment of the team. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra

Suresh Raina will reach Australian shores in a few days time to participate in the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against the formidable hosts. Given the fact that India went for an inexperienced batting side, Raina would have felt hard-done by his exclusion. The fact that he just started showing signs of good form toward the end of the ODI series against South Africa would have added to his anguish. Raina in the last year had played some wonderful cricket on the bouncy and seaming pitches of Australia and New Zealand, only to flounder on the familiar spin-friendly pitches of India and Bangladesh. In 2015 Raina played 20 matches and managed 517 runs at an average of 32.31 with a highest score of 110. However, his performance for India during ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was superb. How he inexplicably lost form at home remains a surprise. READ: India must look to the past in order to secure their future after shocking loss to Australia in 4th ODI at Canberra

Raina can also be called in as a handy part-time bowlers who has the knack of breaking big partnerships. Much like Sachin Tendulkar, Raina ‘s off-spin has an fairly respectable economy of 5.09. Given the way India have leaked runs this series, a bowler with an economy rate of around 5 would have been a welcome change. READ: India’s spectacular capitulation awards Australia 25-run win in 4th ODI at Canberra

The inclusion of Raina would have only helped MS Dhoni and Team India, as it would have calmed nerves down with Gurkeerat Singh and Rishi Dhawan new to the world stage. Raina’s experience would have mattered not only on the field but also off the field. Raina’s jolly nature and happy vibe would have helped the youngsters gel well within the team. His insights will in the long run have come in handy for players like Gurkeerat and Pandey, knowing be molded in his style of slam bang cricket. READ: Kane Richardson’s fifer to outplay India in 4th ODI at Canberra manifests Australia’s ‘never-say-die’ attitude

There is little doubt that MS Dhoni too would have benefitted from having his former IPL team-mate in the squad. Raina and Dhoni have together batted in 71 ODIs for India since 2005, accumulating 3,569 runs with 9 hundred-run stands and 18 half-century stands. Their partnership average of 58.90 tells a story of what was lacking in this team. While chasing they have an equally smashing record with 1,523 runs at an average of 58.57, with a highest stand of an unbroken 196 in 34 matches, of which India have won 18. In victories they average a staggering 102.60. This only proves the point that how influential Raina is to the success of India. And that is just with the bat. Raina has also become Dhoni’s favourite part-timer, often coming on to bowl before the regular spinners and keeping the runs down in the middle overs. READ: India vs Australia 2015-16, 4th ODI at Canberra: Highlights

The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2015-16 served as a reminder of Raina’s prowess. He led Uttar Pradesh to victory in the final, helping them remain unbeaten in the whole of tournament. Though Raina had been having a barren tournament with the bat, his experience and assurance played a pivotal role for Uttar Pradesh. Big match player that he is, Raina reserved his most responsible innings for the final, where his innings of 47 off 37 balls meant that Uttar Pradesh got to a defendable total.

With recent successes in the domestic circuit and that ever-burning fire in his belly Raina will make it a point to not let go of this opportunity in the upcoming T20I series against Australia later this week. India have glaring problems in the middle order, and Raina can easily take on the responsibility of nurturing young blood to play with equilibrium and not give everything away in just a moment, as both Gurkeerat and Rishi were guilty of doing in 4th ODI  against Australia. India will play virtually all their cricket either at home or in sub-continent conditions this year. In Raina they have a player who can put India on a path of blazing magnificence once again.

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, who enjoys his weekly dose of anime, and plays cricket once a white moon. His twitter handle is @vishal_oxyjinn)