Suresh Raina took a while getting back into the Indian team. He made his way back to the Indian T20I side after a break of over 12 months, but has quickly gone on to show that he can be a valued member of the squad. With scores of 15, 31 and 43 and a Man of the Match award in the final T20I against South Africa, Raina has shown that he isn’t really out of place in the current set-up. But rather that sitting on the laurels he’s won recently, the left-hander wants to take the step up and cement a spot in the ODI set-up, too. So much so, that Raina feels it is only a matter of time before he make it to India’s ODI side.
“Just a matter of a couple of games there, I can assure you that I am going to be there very soon,” promised Raina at the post-match press conference. “I worked really hard for two years. Each and every session, I was doing in the gym, on the field, I was just (thinking) when I am going to play for India again. I think God helped. Thanks to my wife, my kid to make me believe I can go there and wear the jersey again. That’s what I think the Indian team does. When you make a lot of sacrifices in your life and at the same time you enjoy your game, (it works out). I worked really hard on my game and my mental toughness.”
India’s look out for a finisher and their failure at finding a consistent one has thrown a possible route back in the side for the batsman. And with the 2019 World Cup not too far away, Raina believes he can make that slot his own.
“It is very important for me. From here we play in Sri Lanka and then we have IPL also coming up. And I was part of the World Cup before. I won the WC in 2011 and played first World Cup that I played, I’ve got the trophy in my house, that’s an unbelievable feeling. Coming back to one-day spot, I think I’ve done well at No. 5.”
Speaking about the triumphant T20 series, Raina lauded Virat Kohli for the way he led the side, and for infusing confidence in his game.
“First of all congrats to India for the way we played in Tests, ODIs and T20Is. We showed what we can achieve as a team in South Africa. The confidence in the dressing room gave us the license to enjoy ourself on the ground and express ourselves. That’s why we won this game so beautifully. The way we bowled in the (first) six overs – Bhuvi, Bumrah, Pandya… I think T20 cricket is all about how you put your attitude on the field, and that showed today.”
“I think when India wins, everything looks nice. The way Virat led the team in the last two months, I think it showed he cares for each and every person. Batting at 3, he was brilliant in 20-20, and gave me the license to go after all the bowlers. I think that showed faith in me. At the same time, I enjoyed batting with Shikhar (Dhawan). He made me more comfortable, and he was telling me ‘just look to enjoy yourself, look to express (yourself)’, that’s what we’ve done in the first six overs.