CHENNAI: For close to seven years, Suresh Raina was an inseparable part of the Indian limited-overs unit. But he lost his ODI place before the Asia Cup where India couldn’t make it to the final. There were times when India missed the left-hander’s aggression towards the latter half of the innings, just as Raina himself missed the buzz.
But the man who has played 189 ODIs is part of the India’s World T20 unit which will again go to Bangladesh in a week’s time. Raina is currently working hard on his game and fitness, looking to be at his best during the World T20. He spoke about his preparations and much more during a chat with us on Friday. Excerpts:
It must have been difficult for you to be out of the Indian team when they were playing in Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
Yes it was difficult but that’s something I have to take in my stride and move on. I have played in the domestic one-dayers and have worked very hard on my fitness. I have done meditation as well to increase my concentration.
Where do you think things went wrong for you of late?
Coming in to bat at No. 5 and 6, I have got some starts and reached 20s and 30s. The problem is I haven’t been able to build on those starts and that’s what I am trying to rectify. I have spoken to Sourav Ganguly as well and his advice has been very helpful.
Anything specific that Sourav told you?
He just gave me confidence and told me to work on my strength. He reminded me how well I had done in ODIs before and told me to play the same aggressive game that made me successful. It does feel good when such a great player has so many good things to say about your game.
The short ball has been a bit of a problem for you. Any specific training against the short ball?
It’s all part of the improvement process. I have taken all those things into account and tried to work on it. I have taken the advice of my coaches as well and I believe you will see a different Suresh Raina in the T20 World Cup.
You have been one of the best T20 players for India. What’s the secret?
In T20 cricket, more often than not, I have gone out to bat early. It has allowed me the time to get settled and play some crucial innings. That’s something I would like to do in one-dayers as well, as and when I get the chance again.
This T20 World Cup is crucial for you as it is for the team…
No doubt about it. This T20 World Cup is going to be the stepping stone for the 50-over World Cup in a year’s time. If we do well and go on to win it here, it’s going to be a huge boost to our confidence. As for me, if I do well and have a good IPL after that, it will help me come back into reckoning for ODIs.
But given the poor run of form, do you think India have a chance in the T20 World Cup?
Of course we have. Look at the balance of experience and youthful energy. We will go there and play a few practice games as well which will help us tune up to the conditions. And as it is, it’s the subcontinent and we have always done well. If everything falls into place, we have every chance of winning it.
Can you specify why India haven’t done well in limited overs since October?
A combination of reasons. Sometimes our batting has done well and the bowling hasn’t clicked and vice-versa. Then the new rules in ODIs which have come into place where more than four players are not allowed outside the ring. It takes a little time for the bowlers to get used to it, just as the batsmen sometimes find a little tough to rotate strike. But all that’s part of the game and we are in the process of coping with it.
Finally, what are your thoughts on Chennai Super Kings after the auctions. Is it as strong as it used to be?
It is for sure. We have quite a few players who have played for us before and understand the requirements of the team. Of course, we will miss Mike Hussey, he was such an important member of our side, just as we will miss the likes of Badrinath and Albie (Morkel). We don’t yet know where will we play the IPL and taking everything into account, CSK is a well-balanced side.