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Staying positive is key: Raina

UP lad says Dhonis men are the favourites

After a woefully modest series against South Africa, Suresh Raina is keen to cash in on the opportunity at the World Cup. FILE PHOTO

That century eaned Raina a membership in the exclusive club of batsmen who have crossed the three-figure mark in all three formats. Suddenly, the No 6 position in the Test side ceased to be a concern and the world was there for Raina to conquer. Or it seemed so.
A few months down the road at Centurion, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis showed that Raina has to travel miles before entering an elite pantheon while exposing his frailities -- mental as well technical -- against high-class fast bowling.

Subsequently, he lost his Test place to Cheteshwar Pujara but Raina’s proven ability in the one-dayers earned him a justified place in India’s World Cup squad, a first in his career. “It was disappointing to have missed the 2007 World Cup. But by the grace of God, I made it to the final 15 this time. I will just look to enjoy myself and give my 200 percent for the team,” Raina said.

Commitment and passion have never been Raina’s shortcomings as the UP lad had impressed even a hard-nosed disciplinarian like former Indian coach Greg Chappell. But going into an important tournament like the World Cup after a woefully modest series could prove detrimental to a player’s confidence.

By his own admission Raina is not a man of past, refusing to dwell on his failings in SA in the one-day format too. “It’s very important to stay positive and not think about the past. Yes, I didn’t do as well in SA as I would have liked. But that was a very good tour for us. We drew the Test series, which has never happened before. We fought really well in the ODI series and we won the Twenty20 match. Those results have created a positive environment in the team and I am happy to be a part of it,” he said. 

But is there any trace of pressure? “You got to remember that I bat at number six. I have been batting there for the last two-three years. When you bat at that position, most of the time you have to get on straightaway with the task of getting the big hits, especially in the Power Play overs.

“It’s not that I didn’t score runs. Maybe I haven’t scored many fifties but if you check my record, I have hit a few quick 30s or 40s in the final overs. As long as the team is winning and I am playing a part in it, I am not bothered about individual records,” Raina explained.

As the chat veered on to India’s chances in the World Cup, Raina stressed that the Men in Blue were one of the top favourites.

“India is definitely one of the favourites. But there are quite a few top sides. Firstly, we must make sure we reach the semifinals because then I believe no one can stop us. It’s important to play consistent cricket throughout the tournament.”  
Raina’s consistency will play a huge role in it.

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