Raina’s a match-winner: Gambhir
Colombo, July 28: Man-of-the-Match Suresh Raina took India across the line with Irfan Pathan after Gautam Gambhir set up the chase with a crucial century in the third ODI against Sri Lanka. The visitors now lead the five-match ODI series 2-1.
In the post-match media interaction, Gambhir discussed his innings and the team, standing up for the out of form Rohit Sharma.
On how he crafted his innings
It was important [to build the innings]. One of us, one of the top three, had to bat long, because when you are chasing 280-odd, it’s important that someone from the top three bats for 40 overs and tries and anchors the innings from one end. Then people can play around them. Luckily, it was me today [who did that]. [In the] first game Virat [Kohli] and Viru [Virender Sehwag] did it and today it was my turn. So that is what is important when you are chasing 280 -300 [odd runs]. Someone has to bat through and anchor the innings so that people can play around [him].
On the ‘three-match series’, as he referred to it after the second ODI, in which India have taken a lead
In a five-match series if the teams are 1-1, then the third game is very crucial. If we can continue the momentum from here on it will be good for us. Sri Lanka will be under pressure. They will have to win two of the two remaining games while we need to win one match to win the series. The important thing is to carry the momentum into the next match and try to win the series in the next match. That is good for us. We are a good one-day side and we have always done well against Sri Lanka so it is a good opportunity in the next game [...] [Hopefully] we can seal the series in the next game.
On Suresh Raina coming in to bat at a crucial time and taking India to victory
That’s the position [he comes in at]. That is what he has been picked for. He was brilliant today. Getting 65 in that crucial position, and under pressure, was important. But everyone has a different job to do. When you open the batting or bat at No. 3, the top three doesn’t get that much of an opportunity because they play the new ball. So everyone has different roles in this side and each one has to try and play their roles to the best of their ability. Raina, as we all know, is a quality player and on his day can be a match-winner and that is what he has shown today.
On being run out once again
As long as I keep getting run out after getting a 100, I will be very happy. If I get run out on a low score, then I need to think about it. But while playing international cricket, these things will happen. It is disappointing because there was a Powerplay and you are looking to cash in on it. […] [If] you get run out when there is no Powerplay, then you should be okay with it. But getting run out in the Powerplay is always very frustrating because the fielders are inside [the circle] and you can actually look to cash in on it. Hopefully it doesn’t happen too many times in the future now.
On the difference between the conditions in Hambantota and Colombo and the corresponding change in approach
The breeze was an important factor in Hambantota, there is no doubt about that. You could not try and play shots on one side of the wicket because of the breeze. The bowlers were getting help in Hambantota and the breeze was playing an important role but in Colombo, the way we chased today [made it] an even contest. It was a good wicket for hundred overs and there was no breeze, though it was very humid, but I think the wicket got better in the second innings and there was a bit of dew. The ball started coming on [to the bat] better in the second innings.
On Rohit Sharma’s lack of form
If someone gets out on the first ball, [or equally] if someone gets set and then gets out, he needs to think about it. Anyone can get out. There have been some great players, who have not scored lots of runs and they have been going through a bad phase [...]. I still believe and still mean every word of it: Rohit Sharma, according to me, is the best talent India has ever had. I see him scoring lots of runs for India in the future. Let’s not talk about individuals, let’s not talk about Rohit not scoring runs [...]. When the team is doing well we need to support people who are not doing well.
There was a time against West Indies when neither Viru nor I were getting runs; Rohit Sharma was single-handedly winning games for us. Let’s not single anyone out. I think Rohit Sharma is a quality player. Everyone should back him because I see him scoring a lot of runs in the future and he could be one of the great players of Indian cricket in the future.
On whether the pitch became easier to bat on in the last 10 overs of the Sri Lankan innings
We just didn’t bowl well in the last 10 overs. You can’t afford to give away 95-odd runs in the last ten overs when [the opposition] have literally two new batsmen at the crease – Angelo [Mathews] and Jeevan Mendis [in this case]. We need to work on our bowling because 95 [-odd] are too many runs in the last 10 overs. Sometimes when you give 60-70, that is still tolerable but 95 [-odd is] too many runs when the Powerplay is over. [We] need to work on it because at one stage we were thinking we could contain Sri Lanka to 250 and then chase it down. But there is a [big] difference when you think about containing someone to 250 and then the opposition gets to 286 – that is a huge margin. We just didn’t bowl well in the last 10 overs, so we need to work [on it] if we want to be a quality side in the future. If we want to win consistently, we just need to work [on our bowling in] the last 10 overs. The way our bowling is, we need to work hard. [...] We have given away a lot of runs in the last 10 overs in the past as well. We will learn from our mistakes.
On being asked to rate his innings
Every innings you play [is important]. For me it’s not about hundred. I’ve never believed in scoring hundreds and stuff. Whenever I contribute and the team ends up winning, those runs are far more important than scoring a hundred and the team ending up on the losing side. […] I know in India we talk only about hundreds and five-wicket [hauls] but personally [...] when I score runs, I want the team to win. That is what is going to give me more happiness.
On Rahul Sharma taking a crucial wicket and on his frame of mind
When you are playing international cricket, when you play professional sport, you need to cut out [from your mind] all those things [that happen off the field]. Sometimes the media can try and talk about those things but for me I think that is what the challenge is – you’ve just got to keep playing. [...] There will be times when he will be under pressure for his performances as well so he needs to cut out all those things and concentrate on what he wants to do. He bowled well for us coming back after a long [time]. I think he has not played for a long time and then coming back and bowling those nine overs was very crucial. There is a lot of talent in the dressing room.