New faces will reinvigorate India – Raina

The limited-overs leg begins with a series of two Twenty20s against Australia, the first of which will be played in Sydney’s Stadium Australia on Wednesday. 

Raina, who was not part of the Test squad, was asked to describe the mood in the dressing-room. “The motivation is good,” he said. “The new boys [who have joined the team for the limited-overs leg] saw the matches. We haven’t done well in the Tests, but there is a passion inside to do well. Andar kuch karne ki tamanna hai [There’s a desire inside to achieve something]. 

“We have worked hard. The new boys have been playing a lot of first-class cricket and we have done well in internationals too. It will be a good challenge for the youngsters and we are ready.” 

Raina promised a better performance from the side. “Definitely. The one-dayers and Twenty20 games will go differently to how the Tests went. Hopefully we will give you positive results. In the World Cup we beat Australia in the quarter-final and hopefully we will do well against Australia again.” 

The week before India arrived in Sydney was a wet one and, though it was hot when India went out to train on Monday, the practice pitches at Stadium Australia, nestled in a corner under the roof, were still damp. All the Indians really managed on Monday was a long fielding session. Raina said fielding would be important over the next month and a half, over which India will compete with Australia and Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Bank Series. 

“Fielding is going to be a big factor. We have to take brilliant catches, affect brilliant run-outs. We have to bat till the end and we have good allrounders. They can hit the ball as well as take wickets. We have good variation bowlers like Irfan [Pathan], Vinay [Kumar] and PK [Praveen Kumar]. They have been bowling really well. Hopefully you’ll see good performances from them.” 

Raina was part of the squad that won the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia four years ago, but didn’t play a single game. He said he has been working hard in preparation for his first international matches in Australia. “I went to the NCA [National Cricket Academy in Bangalore], then practised in Bombay. I am working on my wrist position and have been practising on bouncy wickets.” 

With the seniors under pressure, it is inevitable that Raina will get his third chance in Tests at some stage. Raina said it was important for him to show the world he can play Tests. “I have done well in the West Indies. I played three or four games in the domestic season, got a double hundred, and I am working on my batting. I can play Test cricket and I know that. I didn’t do well in the England series, but I know I can play more and more Test matches. I do believe in my hard work, and whenever I get a chance I will prove myself again.”

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