Indian cricketer Suresh Raina, who won his first Man of the Series award in the recently-concluded ODI series against England, credits the hard work and time spent in domestic cricket tournaments for his remarkable comeback.
Raina slammed four half-centuries in the five-match series, garnering 277 runs in four innings, at a stunning average of 92.33 to play a crucial role in India’s win against the English side.
The left-handed batsman, who was axed from the Indian Test side before the series against New Zealand, said he is hungry for runs and is enjoying the good phase, which has come after a lot of hard work in the domestic circuit with the Uttar Pradesh team.
Raina told bcci.tv, “The series has been good. God has been kind; this is my first time as a Man of the Tournament. Ravi Shastri had asked me about batting lower down the order at No.6 or 7 and not getting the chance to play a long innings and win awards, but I batted well and showed consistency.
“I spent a lot of time in domestic cricket. The hunger was there inside me. We had lost to Pakistan before this series and before that we had lost the Test series against England. So there was a lot of excitement in the dressing room for this series and everyone was very keen to do well,” he added.
The 26-year-old cricketer said he has done a lot of hard work with the Indian coaches and support staff, and has also learnt a lot from the other team members.
“I had a done a lot of hard work to improve as a batsman and improved as a disciplined cricketer. Over the years, I learnt a lot from senior cricketers like VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Whenever I have played with them, they have told me to enjoy batting when I am getting runs. I am feeling good, though it would have been better if we had won today. But winning the series 3-2 is also a very good achievement for us,” Raina claimed.
Raina revealed that he worked on his fitness levels and concentration during the break.
“After I was dropped from the Test team, after the New Zealand series, I spent two-and-half months in the Uttar Pradesh team. And I have worked on my fitness and my concentration has also improved. I was batting well in the nets; I was trying to make sure that I don’t get out in the nets. While batting in the nets whatever thoughts I had in my mind during a match, I was trying to figure out how I would deal with that situation. And Duncan Fletcher and also Joey [Joe Dawes] have helped,” he said.
“We would come early to the nets. We had three-day gaps between the matches in the series, and so I was I coming early to the ground and working on fitness with the bowlers. I had it in my mind that I have to do something special in this tournament because in the Test matches after doing well in one innings I didn’t do well in the next two and got dropped. So I had the hunger in me to do well,” he added.
“I believe in my hard work and I have done really well to be honest. I wasn’t over-confident. I love batting under pressure. And thanks to God whenever there is pressure I am able deliver. Whenever I get the responsibility I deliver with honesty and discipline, and I hope to continue doing that in the coming years,” he said.
Raina now eyes a spot in the Indian Test side, which will take on Australia in a four-match Test series startingt February 22.
"If you talk about my Test performance, I scored a 50 in one of my last three innings. I believe that I can make a comeback in Tests," Raina said a few days ago.
That he is eyeing a Test slot in the Australia series became evident when he stressed on the importance of doing well in the Irani Cup to be held from February 6-10, PTI reported.
"Yes, Irani Trophy will be very important but at this point, I want to focus on doing well in tomorrow's match. Although, we have won the series, it would be nice if we can finish with a 4-1 margin."
First Published: January 28, 2013, 1:10 pm