Raina seeks promotion to boost Test chances
A couple of days after winning India a game with an unbeaten fifty at No. 6, Suresh Raina has said he wants to bat higher up the order in ODIs so that he can score hundreds and make a case for a Test comeback. Raina, who has played 15 Tests, was ignored for India's home series against West Indies and the tour of Australia after averaging 13.12 in four Tests in England in mid-2011.
"I would love to [move up the order]," Raina said. "If I get to bat up the order I can play more overs and score more hundreds. I have scored only three [ODI] hundreds in my career. I need to play longer innings and score more runs [so that] I can come back into the Test team. Wherever I get a chance to bat, at No. 4, 5 or 6, I have to bat anywhere."
Raina started with a century on Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2010 but has been criticized for failing to tackle the short ball in the format. He said he had been working on the weakness and pointed out that of his eight Test dismissals in England, four had been to the offspinner Graeme Swann.
"I have been discussing my batting with Duncan Fletcher (the coach). In Twenty20 and 50 overs you have to play your shots. I am now looking to duck the [short] ball. At the same time I need to score runs, [so I need to] tap the ball and take singles. It's all mental. If you are playing Test cricket, you have to duck the ball. In England I did not do well. I got out once to the short ball and four-five times to Swann. Still, I have done well in Test cricket. I need to do well in two more [ODI] games and then I can be available for the No. 6 or No. 7 slot [in Tests]."
Raina, who has developed a reputation as a fine finisher in limited-overs cricket, credited his "tough days" at the sports hostel in Lucknow for his calm approach under pressure in big games. "[The hostel] didn't have good facilities. But we would get good inputs and we would practise from that. And we learnt that whatever chances we got, we would remain tough. If we got to bat in pressure situations, we would make sure that we finished the job. I have learnt a lot about middle-order batting from Yuvraj [Singh] and [MS] Dhoni. Dhoni and I have been successful as a pair while chasing."
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo