England v India, 3rd ODI, Trent Bridge August 29, 2014

'Improved my concentration a lot' - Raina


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'Still need to achieve more goals' - Raina

When India came out to train for the first time after their demoralising three-day defeat in the fifth Test, Lord's welcomed them with cold weather. All eyes were on the new team director Ravi Shastri and support staff, but well before everyone came out, Suresh Raina was in the middle taking catches. Raina is usually an enthusiastic soul, but this Raina had had a bit of a break, a bit of a heartbreak too, after being dropped from the ODI side and was even keener. More sorted, was his assessment. He said the axe hurt him a lot and all but said that that break actually helped him a lot too. He has scored a hundred in his first innings here, but he will have to make sure this is the first of a few.

When asked what particular changes he might have made to his game in the time spent outside the team, Raina said, "Changes are mostly mental. When you are playing so much continuous international cricket, you don't realise what weaknesses have crept into your game. Then when you sit alone you analyse your game, you meet your seniors. They all have an opinion, you pick the best ones from them. They have helped me a lot.

"I would say you also become a better person. You spend time with your family, with your loved ones, and they nudge you into the right direction. Cricket is a passion for me. I have always enjoyed playing cricket. I am always on a different energy level when I play. I have always been positive. But during this time I discussed small little things with my coaches. Small things that you don't realise have crept into your game. Did a lot of video analysis. Saw my graphs. Made the changes. Feels good now. Hopefully I can continue this."

What exactly did he work on? Raina said it was mostly the mental aspect of converting the 30s and the 40s into big innings. "I analysed a lot after I was dropped," he said. "I was hurt. It was frustrating that I had enough scores of 30-40, but wasn't converting those. I was batting well, everything was going right, but I wasn't converting those. Then I went to domestic cricket, did well in the IPL.

"Trained a lot in Bombay. Praveen Amre has been working with me for a long time. Sachin Tendulkar would also come there sometimes. Spoke to Sourav Ganguly also. Discussed for two-three months as to how I can improve in overseas conditions. I improved as a person. The hunger inside grew. I realised the extent of competition, and at the same time you are a senior batsman so there is extra responsibility. I have improved my concentration a lot."

That unwittingly raises a point about the schedules, for India players will not openly criticise them. And this is coming from a player who has been on the international scene for nine years, although it is hard to tell with Raina, who is hoping once again that this innings will begin a turnaround that gives him a settled role in the side. Raina says he likes No. 5, and that he has worked towards getting better at it.

"At No. 5 you can control the game," Raina said. "Over the last eight-nine years, I have played at all spots. I have usually had MS [Dhoni] batting with me. I have learnt a lot while batting with him. At CSK, I had Michael Hussey to bat with. Have worked a lot with lefties. Here I have Duncan Fletcher. Stephen Fleming [the Chennai Super Kings coach] is also leftie. Gary [Kirsten] too. Have spent a lot of time talking to Gautam [Gambhir], when I was in Delhi during this break.

"No. 5 is a challenging position. You can control the game from there, at the same time you have high responsibility. You know that after Dhoni and [Ravindra] Jadeja, you don't have much batting. Over the years I have learnt how to bat with the tail. The two innings that I played in the World Cup, they were with the tail. There, I began to believe I can put together good partnerships with the tail. That there is no need to play rash shots with the tail. I have improved slowly."

The two innings he spoke about were his 34 not out and 36 not out in the quarter-final and semi-final. The quarter-final runs were scored alongside Yuvraj Singh. Raina can be forgiven such slips of memory if he keeps scoring hundreds of the quality of Cardiff.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    you need to do more suresh raina..youre too inconsistent...no wonder you have the reputation of a 'swing the bat and giggle' batsman..you are strong on the leg side...you are suspect to the swinging ball, like many other indian batsmen..but god on you for saying no to test cricket when in youre mind you know you cant be a capable test batsman..

  • Rajesh on August 30, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    So does this mean that Raina did not have much concentration when he batted earlier... or in short played blind-folded cricket in the recent years.. AND.. he has developed his concentration after being DROPPED from the team... Says a lot about the current players in the team, where you are guaranteed a spot as long as Dhoni likes you.. Where else can we see Dhawan still opening the batting.. where else will we see Jadeja still in the team in spite of poor performances in the last 6-odd tests.. and still not willing to accept that Ashwin is a better batsman than Jadeja.. In any other country, Ashwin would have easily been given a chance to bat in a higher position.. Only in Dhoni's team, he will be made to bat even lower than Jadeja (who has awful technique and a mindless slogger like Dhawan)..

  • Dummy on August 30, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    Every condition suresh raina is perfect

  • ccrriicc on August 30, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    Comparing Ashwin with Raina - Raina is a live wire, Ashwin is a dead plug. Raina is the story of Indian cricket - unguided - dependent on people's good will! he is one of the terrific cricketers who has not achieved his potential. I hope this is the beginning?

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    The way Yuvi batted in ICC T20 World Cup 2014, Raina considered him as tail..lol..jokes apart Raina improved a lot as a cricketer, no doubt on it, but real concern is, can he be a test material.. I personally feel "NO way"

  • Prashant on August 29, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    One good inning can not change your reputation Mr Raina ... I hope some more good innings from you..

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    I think Raina was given a chance higher up the order when India were looking to fill in the #4 spot vacated by Yuvraj Singh. Raina was tried for 6-8 games and it didn't work out. That time the excuse was too much 20-20. I think he relishes the #5, #6 spot where he plays a 20-20 like innings in ODIs. Only time will tell whether he has improved or not but this Cardiff innings was tremendous - full credit to him.

  • Senthil on August 29, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    @anilkp - Agarkar had indeed improved when he said he had. Doesn't mean consistency will come automatically. Raina is immensely gifted but the reason he does so well for CSK is because he plays at #3. He has enough space and time to build the team innings around him. Still, he goes at close to 140 strike rate, which makes him a T20 great, and very consistent over seven seasons. Nobody else has aggregated 400+ in each IPL season.

    It is not that easy to get to that kind of position in the Indian team, especially when you have Kohli rattling off 19 centuries in no time at all. It's a cruel place to bat #5 or #6 in ODIs, because you either have to cream the bowling to push a potential 275 to 325 as soon as you come in, or save the day after 5 wickets have fallen cheaply. Given the circumstances, India is lucky to have Raina there for he is selfless.

  • Anil on August 29, 2014, 17:54 GMT

    Mr. Raina: You were not part of the Indian team then; but once Ajit Agarkar took six Aussie wickets in a Test in Adelaide to help India win a rare over-seas Test match. After that Test match, he famously spoke how greatly his bowling had improved. Needless to say, he failed to achieve a tenth of that achievement again, and was quickly booted out. You do have immense potential. But you will be honest to admit that you have not played to your potential in ODIs and Tests as efficiently as you have done for CSK. After one sparkling innings, the journalists jump into a word-race, claiming such-and-such player "returns to form", only to see the player go back to formlessness quickly. Both the experts, and the players themselves, are quick to give and claim credit. I suggest you wait until the series is over to claim that you have improved a lot. Actually, you do not need to say a thing; your fans and selectors know you well already and they will keep track of your performance.

  • Venkat on August 29, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    You know that after Dhoni and [Ravindra] Jadeja, you don't have much batting.- Seriously?? - Ashwin who has a higher average than the 3 of you in tests?. Man!

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