India news March 8, 2014

Raina eyes comeback after Ganguly support

ESPNcricinfo staff

Suresh Raina has said he piled too much pressure on himself of late even as critics were "obsessed" about his numbers. Raina was dropped from the India XI during the ODIs in New Zealand with just one fifty-plus score in his previous 24 innings and was not picked for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. He is part of the side for the World T20, though, and wants to do well after taking tips from former India captain Sourav Ganguly on matters as varied as making a comeback and handling the short ball.

"When you are down and out, that's when you realise who is ready to help you, who is your friend and who can be a good guide," Raina told ABP News. "Sourav Ganguly was one such man. I spoke to him and he instantly was eager to help me. We spoke a lot, and he told me that I needed to work hard on my footwork, and on my mind. He is a good coach of batting and motivated me a lot when I was mentally down. Our batting style also is very similar and we spoke about the short ball, footwork and making a comeback. I got a lot of positive vibes from dada (Ganguly). He told me a lot on trusting my own ability, and spoke about minor things that I had overlooked for some time."

While Raina admitted that making bigger scores would have helped his cause, he said people did not appreciate the worth of smaller, but important, innings he had been getting down the order. "Every channel I watched and every newspaper I read, I realised everyone was only talking about my form, and how bad it was. They kept arguing that I have had no half-centuries in the last 25-odd games and how my averages are in a particular format, and so forth. There is an obsession with numbers and statistics, but that is so harsh on a cricketer. He cannot be judged purely by statistics, performance is subjective.

"I have played several crucial 35-run knocks coming down the order, it's not easy to play with tail-enders. People never realised that India has often ended with chasing in a lot of these ODIs, and batting lower down in chasing a target is a high-pressure job. Only MS Dhoni and Mike Hussey have a good average in world cricket batting so lower down."

With his performance under so much scrutiny, Raina said he had started to walk in to bat in each game thinking it could be his final match. "Lately, I used to get onto the field thinking I have to do well, this is my last chance to bat, this is my last chance to get a big score, this is the last catch I will be taking. So I needlessly put undue pressure on me and it made me nervous, and that's where I made a mistake. I started thinking that every match is my last match, because suddenly it seemed everyone was only talking about me."

Raina did not think he had been unfairly targeted, though, and felt he could have done better. The time away from the team had given him space to work on his game, which did not require any major changes, Raina added. "I am not making excuses. I made mistakes, I could have got more fifties, more runs. I lost my concentration at crucial times that led to my downfall before. But what I am saying is I love to play for my team, not for an individual score. In this break, I have realised one thing very clearly, there is no need to change my game. I only need to get better at playing my style. I am a 30-ball 50 batsman and I would never try and become a 60-ball 50 batsman.

"I have learnt to take my time at the crease, try and bat more consciously and the need to score lot of runs. I have seen my old videos and that has given me a lot of confidence, it has made me realise of the mistakes that I have made. It has been 7-8 years that I have been playing virtually non-stop cricket. I got no rest and this time it was a forced break. In many ways, it helped, though as a player you never liked to be dropped. It allowed me to spend time with my family, be a good son and allowed me to recharge again to play cricket. I played the Vijay Hazare Trophy and got some good practice before the World T20."

Raina said he was hungry for runs and confident going into the World T20, adding that he had recognized during the Asia Cup that the team "needed" him. "I saw the Asia Cup sitting at home from a third man's perspective and realised that the team needs me. I have a role to play with this team. I just need to get back among runs, do well at this World T20 and maybe force my way back into the ODI side with the 2015 World Cup in mind."

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  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    Dravid never suffered palying the short balls and hence he will never understand the problems associated with it. Ganguly suffered and rectified it well to come back stronger. He is certainly the man to go for. Good decision Raina.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2014, 5:36 GMT

    @Temuzin...Agreed that Ganguly was not a good player of short balls but he wasn't that bad either. Remember his comeback period between 2006-08 during which he was very good at playing the short ball. He changed his stance and playing style as well with a higher back lift. If he really had any problem with the shorter deliveries then he wouldn't have lasted for so long and scored centuries at ease in England, South Africa, Australia (for the record he was the first Indian to score a 100 in an ODI in Australia and against Australia), West Indies.

  • uncle bob on March 11, 2014, 19:49 GMT

    Forget Raina, at this juncture it will be hard for him to really play Short ball. Give number 5 poision to jadeja. He has shown tremendous batting form in NZ. He will be able to perform better than any at number 5 except Dhoni and Kohli, if they want to bat at that position.

  • uncle bob on March 11, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    Thats suicidal on Raina's part. Gangully was never a good player against short balls. He should have gone to some one who was good at that. May be dravid should be a good choice. at least he will teach raina how to leave short balls if you are not in position to hook or pull.

  • Thejesh on March 11, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    Raina is a great player morever, a great finisher.He has the ability to loft any type of ball expect his weakness the short ball. Raina was bubbling with form before the ipl. Let Raina regain his form. CONGRATS !!!

  • Dummy4 on March 11, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Raina is a dangerous batsman , and other teams' bowlers would have been happier not to bowl at Raina in the ODIs and T20s.

  • John on March 10, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    Dada is not the right person to teach Suresh Raina. Raina needs to open his eyes to outside India - English county cricket to learn to play pace attack in pacy pitches. No way Dada can teach Raina. May be Dada can teach the value of bravado and chest thumping. Not much with the bat.

  • Arif on March 10, 2014, 18:00 GMT

    Dada had similar problems with the bouncers etc, so not really sure what advise he could have given to Raina!! India should move ahead and find someone else. Raina is always going to struggle as he is technically not proper. So, once he returns and fails to score runs once again. Same people, who are asking for his return, will criticize him relentlessly.

  • Teerthesh on March 10, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Every team needs a player like Raina. He is like your best friend in the side. He enjoys every wicket taken by others, every good innings played with clear heart. In the current side, everyone is playing for their own spot. Someone below hopes openers to fail so they can grab a chance. Its not a true 'Team Spirit'. Raina was the one 'gelling' factor in the side. Likes of Jadeja, are truely opposite of him, though he performs better and keeps his place in the side, but the team spirit is dampened due to guys like him. Rohit is equally bad... To play so slow against even minnows clearly shows what he is out there for.

    Like he said, and is true that Raina did play many meaningful 35-runs innings - most importantly against Asutralia in WC, also against Pak and SL. He played like Michael Bevan for us. Played for the team's success and not for his personal score. At no.6 you don't get many chances for long innings.

    That said, he cd have deinitely done better in some demanding situations.

  • Dummy4 on March 10, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    Problem is his mindset. Once a Short ball is bowled he expects every other ball to be a short one. This pushes him back into the crease more often getting him LBW's or Bowled or Caught behind for full length deliveries. Raina Debuted 3 years before Virat. Virat was not good at it either. Virat worked on it day in and out and got the better off it. Whereas Raina has gone from better to worse. This has been his problem for a few years now. If he needs to get back to the Indian team he must rectify that flaw of his no matter how good he is scoring. He needs to be honest to himself and ask a Question Am I a good player chasing targets when wickets are down under pacy/Bouncy conditions ? If the answer is Yes he is on the path to correcting is his mistakes. If it is a NO well he is not learnt anything from past and he just wants stick around as that mediocre player that can score runs only in favourable conditions.

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