Suresh Raina slammed a 45-ball 63 in his last appearance for India © AFP
Suresh Raina slammed a 45-ball 63 in his last appearance for India © AFP

Suresh Raina believes that he was dropped from the Indian side despite performing well. The axing had “hurt” him, he confessed. However, after back in the mix after clearing the Yo-Yo test, Raina is eyeing a strong comeback in the T20Is against South Africa. “I was hurt on getting dropped even after performing well. But now I have cleared the Yo-Yo test and feeling so strong. During all these months of hard training, the desire to play for India again grew only so much stronger,” Raina told Aaj Tak.

Eyeing 2019 World Cup

Raina expressed his desire to play the 2019 World Cup and having done well in England, further boosts his confidence: “I won’t leave it here. I have to play for India for as long as possible. I have to play the 2019 World Cup because I know I have done well in England. There is still a lot left in me and I am extremely confident of doing well in these three games in South Africa.”

Raina, now 31, has played 223 ODIs and 65 T20s, and was the first Indian to score a hundred in all three sports. However, he revealed that he is feeling like a debutant: “Yes, I am 31 but, as they say it, age is just a number. The other day when my match clothing arrived, I had the same feeling like I got before making my India debut. It is so special.”

Raina had belted a 45-ball 63 in his last appearance for India, in the third T20I against England in February last year. He could not clear the Yo-Yo test and that kept him out of the national side.

India announce squad for T20Is against South Africa; Suresh Raina returns
India announce squad for T20Is against South Africa; Suresh Raina returns

“My family became my biggest strength during this trying time. I played a lot of domestic cricket and focused on clearing the Yo-Yo test too. I worked really hard on it at the NCA. I have always been fit during my entire career but it is just that at time you get down injuries or niggles and that hampered the preparation to clear the test.”

Raina for No.4 in ODIs?

The Indian ODI side may be winning matches, but the middle-order does not wear a settled look. Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane and Hardik Pandya have all been tried in recent times without consistent success. MS Dhoni probably has a couple of years under his belt, but there needs to be a long-term replacement for him as well. Raina is aware that a few good knocks in the upcoming T20Is can pave the way for him in ODIs.

“If you talk about the No 4 slot in the ODIs, it is not an easy one to bat on. Most of the time the team is in a tricky situation when the No 4 comes to bat, especially while chasing. One needs to attack, change the gears constantly. I personally feel that the No 4 and 5 slot suits more to my style of batting,” said Raina.

Raina has not played an ODI since October 2015.

(Inputs from PTI)