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May 25, 2010
Indian captain Suresh Raina has said his inexperienced pace-bowling attack had the most to gain from the short tour of Zimbabwe, which includes an ODI tri-series involving Sri Lanka and two Twenty20s. The seamer-friendly tracks in the country will be a learning experience for the batsmen as well, but Raina hoped the fast bowlers will be able to compete for places once the seniors return.
"We have some very good medium pacers. Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar and Ashok Dinda have done well in domestic cricket to earn their place in the side," Raina told the Telegraph ahead of the team's departure. "The Zimbabwe wickets would provide them with a good opportunity to prove themselves again."
The Indian batsmen, including the more established players like Raina himself, struggled to cope with the pace and bounce of the West Indian pitches in the ICC World Twenty20, where the team exited after the Super Eights. However, Raina was confident of a better performance in the longer format.
"In T20 you have to smack every ball from the start. But in the 50-overs game, you have to hold back a bit," he said. "It's a long format. We have players who have done well in ODIs and Tests."
Raina was appointed the stop-gap captain after the selectors decided to rest several senior players, including regular skipper MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan. Raina's most high-profile captaincy stint so far has been leading Chennai Super Kings for a few games in the third season of the IPL in Dhoni's absence. He has led the India A team in the past as well as his home state of Uttar Pradesh, though he's not the first-choice captain there as well.
Raina was confident of leading the country despite his limited experience. "Yes, it was my dream, but it also means added responsibility," Raina said. "I have played under Ganguly, Rahul-bhai [Dravid] and Dhoni. I spoke to Dhoni, he just asked me to keep it simple. And Sachin [Tendulkar] always says, 'if you stay humble you'll achieve all that you want'."
He added that his position in the batting order is not certain. "I will speak to the coach about the line up. I will try to bat up the order, but all that will depend on the situation there."
India play their first game of the tri-series on May 28 against Zimbabwe.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth