Suresh Raina: The ideal man to bat at No 4 for India?

Suresh Raina (right) scored 39 off 45 balls against Australia in the first ODI at Rajkot © IANS

MS Dhoni talked about giving opportunities to Suresh Raina at No 4 after the first One-Day International (ODI) against Australia. While this is an ideal move for the southpaw to construct an innings and score big centuries, the pertinent question remains: Can he deliver the goods at that position? Sarang Bhalerao presents a statistical analysis.

Suresh Raina at No 4. How many of you would have put their money on the move? Not many, one would assume. India have a vision as skipper MS Dhoni talked about an important development at the end of the first One-Day International (ODI) against Australia in Pune. He said that with his eyes focused on the ICC World Cup 2015. Raina would be persisted with the No 4 position for a few games. Yuvraj Singh, who has had great success at that position, will bat down the order.

Raina’s role in the Indian team more often than not is to finish the games for India. At No 4, he will be expected to absorb the pressure after the fall of early wickets and to keep the scoreboard ticking. This is Raina’s second outing at the two-down position. Till now in the 12 innings at No 4, Raina has scored 468 runs at an average of 52, which includes a ton and four half-centuries.

Let us look at the break-up of Raina’s innings in ODI cricket in various positions

Position I R HS Ave SR 100 50
No 3 18 494 84 29.05 82.6 0 5
No 4 12 468 116* 52 93.78 1 4
No 5 53 1,572 101 36.55 93.34 1 11
No 6 55 1,571 106 37.4 92.35 1 9
No 7 12 200 36* 25 86.95 0 0
No 8 1 39 39* 130 0 0
Total 151 4,344 116* 36.5 91.6 3 29

It can be noticed that barring Raina’s one outing at No 8, his strike-rate is the best batting at No 4. His average of 52 is the best at any position that he has batted. The sample space for the analysis of Raina’s career at two-down is just 13 games (12 innings), so it is pre-mature to assume anything. He has got five scores of above 50 in 12 innings, which show that Raina has the propensity to build an innings.

Let us have a look at the top run-getters at the No 4 position over the last five years [Qualification: Minimum 1,000 runs]

Player I R Hs Ave SR 100s 50s Conv rate
1 AB de Villiers (South Africa) 51 2,517 134 54.53 96.14 7 15 0.32
2 Michael Clarke (Australia) 60 2,358 117 50.17 75.62 4 16 0.21
3 Ross Taylor (New Zealand) 58 2,225 131* 42.78 82.16 4 17 0.21
4 Yuvraj Singh (India) 47 1,533 131 35.65 87.4 3 10 0.16
5 Mahela Jayawardene (SL) 46 1,438 103* 35.95 78.88 2 10 0.12
6 Virat Kohli (India) 26 1,314 133* 62.57 89.63 6 5 0.28
7 Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan) 29 1,145 83* 52.04 64.65 0 12
8 Dinesh Chandimal (Sri Lanka) 36 1,014 92* 31.68 71.91 0 8

*Conv rate is the conversion rate, which is the ratio of number of hundreds scored to the number of times a batsman crosses a half-century.

AB de Villiers leads the list with 2,517 runs at an average of almost 55 and a strike rate of over 96. He has scored seven centuries at this position. India’s Yuvraj is placed fourth with 1,533 runs at a moderate average of just under 36.

Only De Villiers’s strike-rate is over 90, which is due to the fact that he shifts gears adroitly and builds his innings taking ones and twos interspersed by the occasional boundary.

Raina has all the right ingredients to succeed at No 4. But will he be able to sustain the pressure and score heavily at that position? He is ready to grab the opportunity with both hands, much like how Virat Kohli has made the No 3 position his own.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)