India news February 5, 2013

Raina targets fifty Tests

ESPNcricinfo staff

Suresh Raina, who was dropped from the India Test squad for the England series, believes he can extend his Test career to 50 Tests if he continues working hard.

Raina started his Test career with a century in Sri Lanka in 2010 and followed it up with two half-centuries in the next two Tests. In the following 14 Tests, however, he managed 459 runs at an average of 19.95 and lost his Test spot to Yuvraj Singh for the home Tests against England.

"I have played just 17 Test matches," Raina said. "I am the sort of guy who always believes in hard work and discipline. I know if I work really hard on my game, I will be able to play at least 50-60 Test matches."

Raina is part of the Virender Sehwag-led Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup and sees the match as another opportunity for him to push for a place in the Test squad. He had an average Ranji season - 304 runs from six matches - but scored four consecutive half-centuries in the recent one-dayers against England and was the man of the series. Raina hopes to translate this form to the longer version ahead of the Australia Tests.

"I have been scoring runs in last 10 matches," Raina said. "This is the chance. I need to do well in this game; then I can come back to the Test team."

Raina is one of the players who have been in line for the No. 6 spot in Tests, but hasn't been able to maximise his opportunities. He said though, that he is looking to be more solid in his game.

"I did well initially in the West Indies but didn't get runs against England (in England, 2011). I have been batting well. I need to be more solid and mentally stronger."

The Irani Cup match features a number of players aiming to stake their claims for the Test team ahead of the Australia series that starts on February 22.

"It's an important game. If you look at the last series, we didn't play well against England in Test matches. You have got the best team from Mumbai and all the players in Rest of India are trying to make a comeback. Viru bhai [Sehwag] is leading us, so his experience is there for us.

"Paaji [Sachin Tendulkar] is playing in the other team . They have [Wasim] Jaffer and Ajit Agarkar has captained well. We have all youngsters in our team. Our coach, Vikram Rathore told us to just enjoy the game. This is a good challenge before the Australia series."

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