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January 26, 2013
Suresh Raina keen on Test return
Suresh Raina, whose unbeaten 89 in the fourth ODI against England in Mohali sealed a series win for India, has admitted that he would like the opportunity to bat further up the order. Raina has spent the majority of his 158-match ODI career coming in at Nos. 5 or 6, and it was from a position of three wickets down that he scored his 27th half-century on Wednesday.
"Definitely, I would like to bat higher up the order," he said, ahead of the fifth ODI. "If I am given a chance, I would like to give 100% as it will also give me an opportunity to play more overs. I have enjoyed batting at five, six, seven, where you need to bat till the finish."
Yuvraj Singh has occupied the No. 4 spot for India in recent years, although Raina has an impressive record batting there - albeit in just nine innings - averaging 58.85, with four fifties and his best ODI score of 116 not out. Raina has, however, been in good form in his current slot in the line-up, scoring half-centuries in each of his three innings against England so far to make him the leading run-scorer on either side.
Raina, 26, also said he hoped being able to bat for longer periods and building an innings would aid his chances of returning to the Test team. Raina's average from 17 Tests is just 28.44 and he has made six single-figure scores - including three ducks - in his last eight innings. After a year out of the side, he played in India's two Tests against New Zealand in August, scoring 3, 55 and 0 before being dropped in favour of the returning Yuvraj. "If you talk about my Test performance, I scored a fifty in one of my last three innings," he said. "I believe that I can make a comeback in Tests."
An impressive performance in the Irani Cup - a one-off Indian first-class match featuring the Ranji Trophy winners and a Rest of India side - which will begin on February 6, could push him back into the selectors' thoughts ahead of the arrival of Australia later in the month. But Raina was keen not to look too far ahead and hoped to help India secure another win over England in Dharamsala.
"Yes, Irani Trophy will be very important, but at this point I want to focus on doing well in tomorrow's match," Raina said. "Although, we have won the series, it would be nice if we can finish with a 4-1 margin."
Preventing that from happening is the priority for the tourists and Joe Root, a rare recent success story for England's one-day team in India, said the players were pulling in the same direction and eager to finish on a high. "We're obviously very disappointed as a team with the way the series has gone," he said. "It has been nice for me to score some runs and put in a few performances, but it always feels better when you're winning."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur