T20 batting clarity works for Raina
He may have lost his place in the one-day unit, but India needed Suresh Raina's swipes in the shortest format. And immediately in his first match for the country after being dropped midway through the New Zealand tour, Raina showed his importance in T20s, making an unbeaten 35 that delivered India another win over Pakistan in a world tournament.
Not only was this innings important personally for Raina, it was also crucial for India to have a key middle-order batsman do well. Coming as it did right in the opening match, Raina's performance augurs well for India's prospects for the rest of the tournament.
Both Yuvraj Singh and Raina had not been able to click in recent times in one-dayers, and in a tournament format where almost every game is crucial, it would have been heartening for the team management to see Raina deliver, especially after Yuvraj lasted only two balls. This is the format in which Raina can cause maximum impact. He does not have to hang around for too long, the swipe over midwicket is always a productive scoring option. Raina is also equally adept at both working the spinners around and attacking them, something teams will have to do with slow bowlers already showing how big a role they will play in Bangladesh. After getting past Saeed Ajmal and co, India will have to deal with Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree next.
Raina spoke about his approach to batting in T20s, saying that while one had to be selective in terms of attacking, it was also crucial to completely back what you had decided to do against the spinners. "In T20 my game is different because I know I only have 10-12 overs," Raina said. "They [Pakistan] had in Ajmal a bowler who can take wickets. [You have to] look to attack other bowlers rather than just attack Ajmal. You have to change your gameplan very quickly in T20 [as to] who you have to attack.
"In short format you have to plan according to every two overs who and who not to attack. If you have wickets in hand you can accelerate. We have good power [in the batting line-up]. [MS] Dhoni, Yuvi, and then [Ravindra] Jadeja and Ashwin. If you get a good start it is good for the batsmen down the order.
"The ball is turning for the spinners, so to shape up for the shot you have to get underneath the ball a bit. Your thoughts have to be clear whether you have to hit the ball or not. From overs seven-eleven you also have to rotate the strike well. Even if you get one loose ball, if you can convert it into a four or a six, that is a good gameplan."
Probably no Raina press conference is complete without the short ball being mentioned. Raina had recently taken tips on dealing with the delivery from former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who he said was a "sweet person" to talk to. Pakistan tried it against him, like all other sides, but on a slow and low surface, Raina was able to pull without any issues, and said he was looking to stay positive against the tactic.
"In T20 or one-day if you get a short ball you get out sometimes, sometimes you don't. Now my position is good, I am looking to play the ball down. I am not committing myself, just looking to watch it rather than doing anything."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo