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Sriram Veera at Sabina Park
June 17, 2011
The thought hovered in the air for a while at the press conference. Finally someone raised it to Suresh Raina, India's stand-in captain. "India won the games played in slow and low tracks in Trinidad but at the first sign of some bounce and pace, you lost two games."
"It wasn't about bounce," Suresh Raina said. "If you see Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had a good partnership. They bowled really well at the right areas. We couldn't get a partnership after 35 overs and that hit us. It would have made a difference if we had 30-35 runs more."
But that was exactly the point. Kohli and Rohit tackled the conditions well - it was by no means a real bouncy track of course- but the rest didn't. Raina the captain was very involved but Raina the batsman let himself and the team down. And he knew it. He also knew exactly why he failed in this match and in the series. "I didn't bat well in three games. I was in bit of rush. I was not spending much time in the middle. If I had spent more time it would have been probably been different. My game is very positive. I was thinking if the ball was full I can go over covers but it didn't work out. I will learn from this mistake and hopefully won't [make] them anymore."
Did the captaincy affect his batting? Raina didn't think so but the coach Duncan Fletcher, while lavishing praise on Raina's captaincy skills, offered a different take on the issue. "It does have some sort of an effect. As a young player you are trying to develop your game and trying to establish your game but at the same time you are looking after ten to 14 other youngsters. You can't move away from the fact that captaincy is a very very difficult job. Sometimes your mind can wander. It happens at times. The mind wanders from your game to game of team. During that period you need to be careful. Sometimes it comes in your advantage and helps your game. You just have to accept sometimes you just go through a bad patch. Other times your shots come off and your performance can be match winning."
However, Fletcher felt that Raina handled himself very well as a captain. "For someone who is 24 years of age, to lead a country like India, and a young team like this, he has done a tremendous job. He is the man who puts his head on block; he has to take the criticism and he has held his head high. He has looked positive, his body language has been positive and that is good. He can develop into a good captain in the future."
India won four of the six games during the limited-overs leg of the tour and Fletcher said he will take lots of positives from the team's performances. "As a young side we came with a 4-2 result. You have to include the T20 game as well and it's a very good result. You can talk about that last two which didn't go our way but sometimes it's very very difficult for players to concentrate after taking the series." It's a slightly tricky reasoning. A young side, ideally, should be fired up to play their best not matter what the circumstances. Perhaps it was just Fletcher's way of trying to back up his players.
The likes of S Badrinath, Shikhar Dhawan and Manoj Tiwary were given opportunities in this series but they failed to produce. No player was named but Fletcher was asked whether the failure of some who have done well in domestic cricket but haven't done well in this series was a fair indication of their talent. Fletcher said he didn't see it that way and that he believes they can't be judged on these performances.
"If you see these young guys haven't got really a fair chance. Five games are not enough to judge a player's ability. First of all playing for India there is a lot of pressure. Because of so much talent around, you are going to get very few chances. Hopefully, they will get more chances in the future. They put a lot of pressure on themselves and as a result you don't see their true potential. When you put pressure your technique changes a litte bit and it can alter your performance.
"I have always used a figure of 30 games, especially for batters. You got to look at 30 games to learn to understand one-day cricket. I don't know how many games these youngsters have played. I don't have the stats with me right now. I have heard some great batsmen who say that it took them 50 ODIs to understand the game. The important thing is they learn from this experience."
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