Bangladesh v India, 1st ODI, Mirpur June 14, 2014

Need to try players before World Cup - Raina


Suresh Raina, the India captain, was swift to defend the squad he has been charged with for the three ODIs against Bangladesh. Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Amit Mishra are the only ones in the squad to have played in India's last 50-over game against a Full Member, but Raina stressed the selectors had to consider India's calendar ahead.

"I don't think they took the series lightly. The England tour is coming up and so few of the players are rested," Raina said. "If you look at the side, all the players have done well in the IPL and first-class cricket. The World Cup is coming up and you need to try a lot of players. I think it is a good opportunity for youngsters to do really well in this series and see how it goes in upcoming matches.

"I think the Bangladesh captain said we are coming with the A team. We are playing between two countries. It's really important for us to play fearless cricket. A lot of our players have done really well and I think the series is a good platform, to cement their places in the team."

And there are vacancies to be targeted. India look settled at the top of an innings, but the middle order is far from decided. The space between Virat Kohli at No.3 and MS Dhoni at No. 6 courts several contenders. Cheteshwar Pujara will try to convince the selectors of his fluency in limited-overs cricket. Raina will look to regain some trust after a lean spell. Ajinkya Rahane will want to mend his iffy strike-rate of 68.78 in 10 innings batting between Nos. 3 and 7. Ambati Rayudu will hunt for the innings that makes people stand up and take notice and Manoj Tiwary will need to prove his fitness as much as his talent.

During a practice session, Duncan Fletcher, the coach, conveyed he would like five minutes with all the new guys. Two of them were in the middle of batting practice. Kedar Jadhav, another contender in the middle-order scrum, was having good success smothering a spinner, a healthy skill to manoeuvre runs without taking too much risk. Beside him, Tiwary was punching through the covers and lofting down the ground. Clarity at the crease was what he wanted - going right back or right forward.

"When I was out of the squad, it was because of my knee injury and not poor form," Tiwary had said. "Just before that I had scored a hundred for India A against Australia. So once I was match-fit, I knew my time would come." His belief has paid off, but the management will now demand performance. After two years in the wilderness due to a spate of injuries, he will want that for himself.

In the adjoining net, Pujara was trying to gain a leg up in the race, polishing his bowling skills. He ran up sedately and landed a loopy legspinner on middle and off. As the batsman defended, Pujara willed his wrists to impart greater rip. He got back to his mark and the process continued - the odd and exaggerated roll of the wrist and flighted deliveries on middle - until the end of training.

Pujara has been eager to assist India's plans for 2015 and had advertised an interest in bowling to help gain a permanent spot in the XI. His control was promising but not threatening and the effort he put in epitomised what his captain desired.

"Some players are coming back to the Indian team, some are getting their chance to play. It's important to stick to together," Raina said. "It is a short tour for us, seven days, three one-dayers and no gaps in between. You have to plan very well and work really hard."

The lure of a defining World Cup performance had been party to curtailing Jacques Kallis' Test career. VVS Laxman's regret over not being able to participate in one is also common knowledge. All 15 players were mindful of avoiding that situation, even as the afternoon sun blazed away.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pritam on June 15, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    I think Rohit needs to be axed for WC2015, I dont expect him to perform in England. So as his replacement, Utappa might come as perfect after this series. He should then be sent to Australia for BG Trophy ahead of WC if that happens this fall

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    i am looking forward to this contest as india selected very skillful individuals,moreover they are inform at the moment...wont be easy for bangla tigers..

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    my squad for world cup -

    playing xi: dhawan, uthappa, pujara, kohli, raina, msd, jadeja, ashwin/akshar, bk, shami, umesh

    reserves: rahane, akshar/ashwin, aaron, ishwar. uthappa being the reserve wicket-keeper besides being the opener

  • parvesh on June 15, 2014, 4:03 GMT

    listen raina and dhoni, i have said all along. In australia and new zealand you have to be able to set a target and defend it. South africa gives india 285 at MCG In the quater final because Dhoni won the toss, i dnt think india will chase that. 3 major tournaments india won because they were able to defend totals. Rayudu and binny floped in the asia cup. You want to try players who can set targets if u lose the toss. Dhoni has lost series abroad because of the players he chooses. The ipl has clouded his india judgement. The bcci has to look after there players. Organise tours better. Why has no one said anything. India is a country that pays to watch its team lose. England is a country that pays to look after its people. Even the Bcci was bought by Ecb to play 5 tests in England. There is my point. Bcci you have sold your team to the highest bidder. At least the people in india dont come to indias matches. Half Empty stadiums.

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    i hope pujara does well in the odis. we need pujara for the world cup. some people think that pujara is a tests only player, but they ignore pujaras list a avg of 56. also pujara is a excellent runner between the wickets & can rotate the strike well, alongwith the ability to bat in tough conditions, something we need in aus/nz conditions for the world cup

    talking of being tests only player, people used to think that same of dravid & amla, but both turned out to be excellent odi batsmen & did well in t20 too later. pujara will do it too and we will find pujara playing the 2015 wc & the 2016 world t20

  • Rama Gopal on June 15, 2014, 3:30 GMT

    @wolf777. Raina has avg-41.80 with SR-125.14 from 8 matches in NZ. He played 8 matches in Aus. 4 matches vs SL and 4 vs Aus. He averages 34.66 striking @ 83.20 against SL while averaging 19.50 @ 89.65 against Aus when playing in Aus. This suggests he only struggles against Aus in Aus. Raina has to play in WC'15

  • Amit on June 15, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    Raina's statement should have been - "Need to try a lot of players before World Cup (including me)"

  • Chetan on June 15, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    It's time that Raina come up the order and prove his worthiness, For me Rahane is not an ODI material. So, it's better to go with Pujara at the start to anchor the inning. My team XI for the series is- Uthappa, Pujara, Raina, Tiwari, Rayudu, Saha, Kedar, Patel, Binny, Umesh, Mohit,

  • Amit on June 14, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    Suresh Raina will find it hard to get going in Australia...his past record in Australia and NZ suggests that it would be better if he is left back in India.

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    Sad to see Pujara having to advertise his ability to contribute some overs to get into the side. He is far too good a player to need to do that.

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