By Ashish Shukla
Melbourne: Feb 4, 2012
The emphatic triumph in the second Twenty20 match against Australia has lifted India's morale and the struggling tourists are now looking forward to the one-day tri-series with renewed enthusiam, said batsman Suresh Raina.
The tri-series, also featuring Sri Lanka, gets underway tomorrow with India taking on Australia.
"The morale has lifted. Every youngster is now looking forward to the one-day series. We have seniors, such as Sachin (Tendulkar) and Zaheer (Khan), who have been here for a month and a half. It would help," Raina said.
India excelled in the field during the eight-wicket triumph last night and Raina, one of the foremost young fielders in Indian cricket, said the key is to show confidence in the field.
"You should expect each and every ball coming your way. Only then you can dive right and left and take brilliant catches?that's the key for me," said Raina.
"If you are fielding in a big ground, it's a challenge to you. Last 7-8 years, personally to me have been good," said Raina.
"Yesterday was amazing. We fielded very well as a unit. If you look at the circle, Jadeja, Virat, Rohit and me in the circle were sharp. Then Gauti (Gambhir) took a brilliant catch in the outfield. If you can do it well in the nets, you can do it in the match as well."
India effected no less than four run-outs in the game on Friday, besides a smart stumping effected by Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps.
"The last couple of months have been good. Trevor Penny (fielding coach) has been doing circle training for us. He cuts catches to us and we have to take catches left and right.
"He makes us work for 45 minutes at least a day and our technique has been very good. The key, as I said, is to expect ball all the time."
Raina took two catches in the first game and effected a run-out from the deep in the second but as a batsman he still has to silence the critics on his ability -- particularly against short and rising deliveries.
"I practiced in Mumbai before coming over with Praveen Amre. I worked on my wrist position to tackle the short ball. t's coming on nicely, I'm looking to bring the pull down. I played a few games and was hitting the ball well. I also had good 6-7 sessions here in Australia," he said.
"When you are batting at number 6-7, it's not easy. Sometimes you don't get many overs and at other times you are batting with tailenders. I hope whatever I can contribute will be good for the team.
"I have played 136 one-day internationals for the country and done well. Sometimes those 20-25 runs don't look big but they are vital for the team. If I get a chance up the order, I know I can do well at 3-4 positions. There are certain players who can't do well at the lower order. Somebody has to take responsibility and I'm always up for it," he added.
Raina said having a few senior players is working to teh team's advantage.
"I learn from seniors, men like Yuvraj and Dhoni. There are new rules in cricket now, the new powerplay, I have to play shots and run swiftly. Fortuantely, there are youngsters who can run swiftly between the wickets with me."
Raina took pains to emphasise that he is not as bad against short-pitched bowling as he's made out to be.
"I have been working on it. I am playing shrot stuff good. Once I was out to a shrot ball in England and the talk started. I did well in England, New Zealand and in the West Indies."
"I have improved over the years. There are not many wickets in India which prepare you well. But you look to bat at cemented wickets with wet ball to improve your technique. Seniors, such as Sachin have been good with their advice. Hopefully, it would reflect in the coming one-day series."
Raina agreed there was some frustration at team not doing well consistently abroad in the last year or so but stressed it never affected the team spirit.
"We were not clicking as a unit. If batting was good, then bowling wasn't good, if bowling was good then fielding was failing us. We fielded well in England but rain didn't help us in bowling.
"But when you are losing, you need to keep the process intact. The good thing was the bonding, even in defeats, was good in the team. There was a little frustration but the intensity was up and we kept motivating each other. We kept enjoying every moment.
"It's a long series and we would look to keep good focus and discipline," he said.
Sachin Tendulkar is back in the fold and Raina said it was an extra motivation for the young boys to live up to the master's expectations.
"He was here in the last Commonwealth series as well, he almost hit a back-to-back hundred in the last series. He would bring in new intensity, he is a senior and expects big things from us."
The left-hander believes the win would be an important boost for the team ahead of the one-day series.
"If you look at yesterday's game, Praveen is coming back to the bowled and yet bowled well. Vinay is good with his variations. When you take early wickets with the new ball, it always helps. Gautam batted with immense responsibility. If there were 30-40 extra runs, we would have chased it down as well," he said.
"If you look at the bench, we have Zaheer, Irfan and Umesh. They are ready to go We have a good unit and hopefully we would do well in the ODIs."
Raina said it was unfair to say that Dhoni has started looking better in ODIs than what he was during the Test seris.
"He always accepts challenge on a cricket field. He is looking different because the team is very new, everyone is young, fielding is good, intensity is good and there is a positive vibe." (PTI)