India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 2nd day September 1, 2012

Raina inspired by Taylor's aggression


Barely had the Saturday crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium finished savouring one of their favourite shots in cricket - a Sachin Tendulkar straight drive - when Tendulkar was bowled through the gate by Doug Bracewell and India were down at 80 for 4. As in 2010, the apparent no-hopers from New Zealand had again pushed India to a tight spot. The rescue artist VVS Laxman was no longer around, and it was down to the Test rookies to save them.

Despite India still being nearly 300 behind, Suresh Raina didn't opt for wait-and-watch cricket. Instead, he went on the offensive, with a hat-trick of fours off Bracewell, and a patented extra-cover loft for six off Jeetan Patel. Suddenly, the New Zealand attack was no longer as menacing and the Indian fightback was well and truly on.

Raina said he was inspired by Ross Taylor's hurricane hundred on the first day. "Whenever I got the ball in my area, I made sure to bat positively because Taylor was going really great against us so this is the style I would like to play in Test cricket," he said. "At the same time I need to control my aggression, need to judge the line and length, so I am getting better. I have done well in one-dayers so hopefully I will be better in Test cricket too."

By the time Raina was dismissed for 55, India had progressed to 179 and Virat Kohli was looking assured. Though Raina was disappointed he couldn't carry on to a bigger score, it was a vital innings for him, as his place is the most vulnerable in the Indian line-up. After the mauling in England last year where he looked completely out of depth, this is Raina's comeback series and the challengers for his spot are plenty.

Raina knows the importance of this series for him, and it helped that he is fresh off several match-turning knocks in the recent limited-overs series in Sri Lanka. "There was no pressure to score big runs but I always looked to enjoy the game," he said. "I didn't do well in England but I went back to the domestic cricket, played couple of matches, scored a double hundred and then played crucial knocks against Sri Lanka and did well in the IPL.

"Now that we have a lot of young players, this is the time to score as many runs and book my place in the side because there are a lot of Test matches coming up in India and abroad as well."

With Raina's exit, New Zealand had a look-in, but like India's bowlers in the final session on Friday, the visitors also failed to produce breakthroughs late in the day, as Kohli and MS Dhoni helped India even up the match. Tim Southee, who justified his selection ahead of Chris Martin with three wickets, didn't think his side flagged as the day progressed.

"No, we're still creating chances and getting edges," Southee said. "I guess we didn't build enough pressure through dot balls. The ball got a bit old and it wasn't carrying. I thought we bowled well. It just gets easier as the ball gets older and unfortunately we couldn't get it to reverse. . "I don't think it was a very abrasive surface so the ball hasn't scuffed up as much as we would have liked. That's why we couldn't get it to reverse."

With the old ball proving ineffective, Southee said the first hour on Sunday will be crucial. "The wicket is a pretty good wicket. So I guess now it's a pretty important time for us with the second new ball (which is two overs away) to see if we can pick up the rest of the wickets."

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • PREMNAUTH on September 3, 2012, 22:55 GMT

    This series Ind should have played some new batsman like Rahanne if they are thinking long term Raina is a one specialist and a good one too

  • sam on September 3, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    Raina is a glorified slogger and not a proper test batsman. Should play Rohit in place of him (everyone including Badri, Rahane or Tiwary will be better than him). And never judge how good someone will be in test matches based on his ODI performances.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    I am fan of Badrinath.He is probably good test match player than Raina will I see him play in test match again? I request Dhoni and selectors not to drop him from the squad in next test series without giving oppurtunity of atleast one match

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    those who want badri in place of raina..plz note the fact that badri doesn't hav much experience against international sides.. so hw can u guys say that he will be more successful..on the other handraina has done well(atleast in odis & t20s) against different sides so giving him preference over others seems the sensible choice to me..

  • aravamuthan on September 2, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    Not a convincing innings from Raina against a weak bowling attack that too in the subcontinent conditions. You could only see his ODI intent, not so assuring, many inner edges just missing stumps, swishing outside offstump, etc. It is a tryst of injustice that test materials like Badri, Rahane are benched to favour ODI specialists.

  • Vaidy on September 2, 2012, 2:15 GMT

    And where is the article on Southee's 3/35? This guy dislodged the Phantom, no less, from the team and bowled brilliantly.

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2012, 1:58 GMT

    If Sachin quits, we could have Badri play a few tests too. Raina is not bad, but is still suspect in conditions where the ball talks more. We do need a solid no:4 or 5. With Pujara and Kohli logically claiming the gaps left by Dravid and Laxman, Raina or Yuvraj can be a good 6 ... Both are attacking and one of them at 6 is not a bad option notwithstanding their terrible tests records. But at 4 or 5 depending on where Kohli plays, we do need a solid batsman. Badri can be what Michael Hussey was to Aus for a few years. But only if he gets chances now. Else India will win home matches and get blasted when they go overseas.... Ofcourse Sachin may continue for 2 years and who knows may rediscover himself.... this may well ensure that the others play around him and become seasoned though in fairness he shd go.....

  • Dummy4 on September 2, 2012, 1:54 GMT

    while Raina is making 55 and 3, Pujara and Virat are making Hundreds, there is a lot raina needs to do to be as good as these other 2 in my eyes

  • moginraj on September 1, 2012, 21:05 GMT

    crucial innings from raina... the youngsters r looking confident, its great to see.......

  • Dummy4 on September 1, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    good luck raina................................

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