I was hungry for runs: Raina
The highest run-getter with 277 runs from four innings in the five-match ODI series between India and England, Suresh Raina received his first Man-of-the-Series award in ODIs. The middle-order bat, who has taken India across the finish line on many occasions, helped revive the Indian innings with a 78-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja and set up a 227-run target for the visitors in the last game of their tour. Although he had played a match-winning knock in the previous game to help India seal the series in Mohali, his crucial 83-run knock today went in vain as India lost to the game at the HPCA Stadium.
In a chat with bcci.tv later, Raina spoke about consistent performance through the series.
Excerpts from his interview:
On being the Man of the Series
The series has been good. God has been kind; this is my first time as a Man of the Tournament. Ravi Shastri had asked me about batting lower down the order at No.6 or 7 and not getting the chance to play a long innings and win awards, but I batted well and showed consistency. I spent a lot of time in domestic cricket. The hunger was there inside me. We had lost to Pakistan before this series and before that we had lost the Test series against England. So there was a lot of excitement in the dressing room for this series and everyone was very keen to do well.
Personally, I had a done a lot of hard work to improve as a batsman and improved as a disciplined cricketer. Over the years, I learnt a lot from senior cricketers like VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Whenever I have played with them, they have told me to enjoy batting when I am getting runs. I am feeling good, though it would have been better if we had won today. But winning the series 3-2 is also a very good achievement for us.
On areas he has worked on
After I was dropped from the Test team, after the New Zealand series, I spent two-and-half months in the Uttar Pradesh team. And I have worked on my fitness and my concentration has also improved. I was batting well in the nets; I was trying to make sure that I don’t get out in the nets. While batting in the nets whatever thoughts I had in my mind during a match, I was trying to figure out how I would deal with that situation. And Duncan Fletcher and also Joey [Joe Dawes] have helped. We would come early to the nets. We had three-day gaps between the matches in the series, and so I was I coming early to the ground and working on fitness with the bowlers. I had it in my mind that I have to do something special in this tournament because in the Test matches after doing well in one innings I didn’t do well in the next two and got dropped. So I had the hunger in me to do well. I believe in my hard work and I have done really well to be honest. I wasn’t over-confident. I love batting under pressure. And thanks to God whenever there is pressure I am able deliver. Whenever I get the responsibility I deliver with honesty and discipline, and I hope to continue doing that in the coming years.
On today’s top-order collapse
It was due to seaming conditions. We didn’t win the toss, but cricket is all about how you mentally accept the challenge. We were getting partnerships, but were not able to convert them into big ones. I hope that we do well in the forthcoming matches.
On the conversation with Ravindra Jadeja in the middle today
We haven’t batted much together but he is a tremendous batsman. Like Mahi [MS Dhoni] said, he is a good all-rounder. I was telling him to be positive and that there is no need to play any sort of bad shots. He played really well for his 39 and he showed that he can bat. He has played enough matches and he was confident.
On his dismissal today
We had a good partnership and we had it in our minds to stretch the innings as much as we can. When Jadeja got out I had it in my mind to bat till the end. But the shot that I got out on, I play that in the shorter formats, in T20s and ODIs. Chris Woakes bowled a slow ball and sometimes it happens that though you are thinking positively, it doesn’t come off the way you want. If I had batted till the end, things could have been different.
On the Indian bowlers
All credit goes to the bowlers in this series. Ishant Sharma, Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled really well. Joey worked really hard with the bowlers. They would come to the ground early and work on their bowling. They bowled well against Pakistan in Delhi in the last ODI and they bowled England out in Kochi and Ranchi. They have good momentum going ahead.
On Bhuvneshwar Kumar
He is a very disciplined cricketer; he is more like Praveen Kumar [they can swing the ball well]. They both belong to the same city and he has learned a lot from PK. Bhuvan is a God-gifted talent; he is just 22-23 and I think he has a long future ahead of him. He is a very intelligent bowler. He bowled really well in domestic cricket.