Whispers questioning Suresh Raina's presence in the Indian team are now growing into shrieks, as he continues to fail in producing the goods but still keeps his place among the best cricketers in the country.
Raina's discomfort against the short ball isn't hidden but him being persisted with despite regular failures is now also making apparent his association and closeness to Chennai Super Kings (CSL) as a strong reason for his immunity.
Though Raina was not the only underperforming batsmen during the ODIs in South Africa and the two defeats in New Zealand so far, he is easily the weakest link in the batting, whose skills on fast and bouncy tracks is more than questionable.
So without going into statistical details, the selectors need to be asked 'On what grounds is he better than Yuvraj Singh? Is he a bigger match-winner than Yuvraj? If Yuvraj can be dropped on performance, why not Raina?' This doesn't mean Yuvraj deserves to be in the team, but that Raina should also be shown the door. There's no room for double standards while selecting the national team, or any team for that matter.
BCCI president N Srinivasan controls the CSK and he also controls the BCCI, and to a major extent world cricket as well. And Raina happens to be a CSK man, one of the few 'elite' players who have never played for another franchise in the IPL. Raina also holds the unique distinction of not having missed a single match for CSK and being the highest scorer in the IPL history. Incidentally, Raina was one of the five players CSK decided to retain before the IPL auction scheduled for February 12. And he continues to be part of Team India as well, no matter what.
Is that a mere coincidence? Doesn't seem so.
Raina's proximity to Srinivasan and CSK is further highlighted looking at the list of BCCI contracted players. While Raina is in the Rs 1-crore bracket in Grade A, India's best batsman (along with Virat Kohli) at present - Cheteshwar Pujara - is in Grade B. On current form and recent track record, Pujara not only deserves to replace Raina in Grade A but also in the ODI squad, especially overseas.
But when will it happen? Dial CSK.