Centurion Raina thanks Dhoni for help
Suresh Raina has credited the India captain MS Dhoni for helping him develop to become the third player to score a Twenty20 international century. Raina's 101 against South Africa elevated him to elite company with only Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum having previously made hundreds.
The innings ensured victory for India, who have progressed to the Super Eights, and surpassed Gautam Gambhir's 75 three years ago as the highest score by an India player in an international. Raina said playing with Dhoni in the Chennai Super Kings' triumphant IPL campaign had been a major bonus.
"Mahi [Dhoni] helped me a lot in the IPL," Raina told reporters in St Lucia. "The senior players, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, have also supported me throughout. I've played five or six years of international cricket, it's important to fulfil the dreams they've had for me."
He brought up his milestone with a six off Albie Morkel and in doing so, made the most of an early life after he was caught off a Morne Morkel no-ball on 5. Raina said he didn't feel at his best early in the innings but found his touch as the day wore on.
"I was not hitting the ball when I came in," he said. "I was thinking 'just rotate the strike' and when I get a loose ball just go for it."
The 14-run result has left South Africa needing to beat Afghanistan in Barbados on Wednesday to move past the group stage. It is a game that South Africa should win but they have left themselves vulnerable after failing to restrict Raina's output.
"We started well with the ball, 160 was par and we were on track for that until Raina got hold of us at the back end," the captain Graeme Smith said. "It was a terrific knock, he held the innings together.
"He played with great accuracy and power and he was able to exploit our lack of accuracy towards the back end, which played into his hands. I spoke before the game about little things and that no-ball proved to be costly for us in the end."
Smith conceded that South Africa's chase wasn't helped by a slow start from himself and Jacques Kallis. Both men made reasonable scores but they didn't move fast enough and when they fell within an over of each other, they had left the team still needing 59 from 22 balls with seven wickets in hand.
"Myself and Jacques probably left it a bit late for the other guys," Smith said. "It was disappointing, when you are chasing a total and you end up 15 runs short of whatever it is and not all your guys get a chance to have a whack. We've definitely got to sharpen up before we play Afghanistan. We've got some things to work on and to think about."