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Can’t wait to get back on the field: Raina

Making a comeback into the Indian side, Suresh Raina spoke about the year gone by, the rigours he went through to make a comeback & the burning desire he has to don the blue
 during the 6th One Day International match between South Africa and India held at Supersport Park Cricket Ground in Centurion on the 16th Feb 2018 

Photo by Ron Gaunt / BCCI / SPORTZPICS

Suresh Raina last played an ODI back in 2015. His latest T20I stint with the Indian team was a year back against England wherein he scored a 45-ball 63. Raina later found himself out of the Indian team with no longer an opportunity to represent the country in blue. No fuss about it, Raina continued to go about his regime working hard every day to get back to where he belonged – the Indian team.

Fast forward to 2018, and he is back in the mix and back to the group where he claims he finds himself amidst ‘a bubbling energy’. The last year has been painful Raina claims, but not once did that burning desire to don the blue fade off, explains Raina.

“I have worked really hard for the last two years and coming to back to the Indian team, it feels like I am playing for the first time in the Indian jersey,” Raina toldBCCI.TV. “I am very happy to be back and I have played a good amount of domestic cricket to get myself in the zone. I am looking forward to the game tomorrow.”

You can almost sense that palpable energy with every statement that he makes. There is yearn in his eyes, that desire to get on the field seems stronger than ever. Afterall, it has been a long time coming and the road to the present has been a tough one.

“I am a very positive person,” he says. “The wait to get back into the team made me tougher and hungrier. Each and every lap I ran during training, I was only thinking about the day I will comeback and represent my country.

“Setbacks give you lessons and they make your character stronger. When you feel things are not going your way, you still need to get your process right and work towards better things. You need to ask questions about your abilities as a cricketer and work towards getting better with each passing day. I became stronger and I have prepared really well to get back here.”

And, who stood by him when the going was tough? “When I didn’t get a chance, I was very strong mentally and got a lot of support from my family. I got a lot of support from our Head Coach Ravi Shastri alongside with captain Virat Kohli. When someone is down, but you have people like them supporting you, it feels great. I wanted to get back to winning ways and this T20I series might well be the beginning.

“It is very important to start well and be mentally strong. I know that I need to just switch on my mind and be mentally tough. It’s all about going out there tomorrow and giving it all. I am hungry to do well and starting off fresh in South Africa feels good since I have played enough cricket in the past here.”

He did look good in the nets. There were those confident front foot drives, the charge down the ground and the flourish to send one soaring out of the nets. Raina displayed it all in his long stint ahead of the nets wherein he received some valuable inputs from assistant coach Sanjay Bangar and Ravi Shastri who were keeping a keen watch over him.

“It was a good net session. I had a long stint and faced some quality bowling from our support staff. I feel I am ready to face some fiery spells against a quality opposition,” chuckled Raina.

The dressing room was no different when it came to being in high spirits. With a dominating ODI series win under the belt, the team is buzzing with positivity. For Raina, the dressing room was like home. “This team is enjoying each others’ success and that makes you believe that you can win any sort of tournament anywhere in the world. I love the dressing room atmosphere and it still feels the same. And when you get a lot of support from all corners in the team, it feels great. The dressing room is bubbling with energy and now it is all about getting on the field and start off with a win.”

Raina reserved some special praise for captain Virat Kohli who has been in ominous form with the bat. He has led by example and has lifted the team’s spirits – a hallmark of his captaincy according to Raina. For Raina, though it is all about making this opportunity count, walking out on the field with his heart on his sleeve and giving it his all.

“Whenever you represent your country, that desire is always there to perform. I am very blessed to have mad a comeback. I am getting a good feel of things at the moment. I want to win games for my country and that is my dream at the moment. I want to go out there and express myself. I have worked hard on my game and waited for my chance to come. I am confident and will make the most of it.” 

Anand Subramaniam

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I remember each one of my 200 wickets: Jhulan Goswami

After becoming the first female cricketer to take 200 ODI wickets, India’s pace spearhead speaks about her milestone and a long career

The highest wicket-taker in Women’s ODIs, Jhulan Goswami added yet another feather to her cap when she claimed the South Africa opener Laura Wolvaardt as her 200th ODI scalp in the second ODI against the Proteas Women. The tall bowler became the first woman cricketer to attain the landmark.

Speaking from South Africa, Goswami said that while the achievement has brought her joy, the fact that it came in a massive win brings her most happiness. A recipient of the Padma Shri and an Arjuna Awardee, she stressed on the importance of processes, training and playing while discussing her career.

You are used to creating records and now here is another big one - 200 WODI wickets!

Thanks to my family, my team-mates, coaches and others that I can continue playing cricket. It is really special as whenever you achieve a milestone, you feel happy; you feel proud. But it was important for me to concentrate on my bowling as at the end of the day, how we perform matters most.

Honestly speaking, when I was only three wickets away from being the highest wicket-taker in the world, I was keeping a count. I took a long time to cross that milestone, but this time I was not counting. I was concentrating only on my processes. If my process is right, then wickets will follow.

It was a very special day for me; more special because we won convincingly. We played very good cricket. I am very happy for Smriti (Mandhana), Veda (Krishnamurthy), Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur) for the way they batted. Also, Shikhu (Shikha Pandey), Raja (Rajeshwari Gayakwad), Poonam (Yadav) everybody they took responsibility and performed well. At the end of the day, cricket is a team sport.

Whatever milestone you have achieved, it feels good (only) when you are on the winning side. It was important for us to win. The points are important as it is the ICC Women’s Championship, a qualifying event for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021. So, more than the 200 wickets, it was important to take the two points from each and every match.

You open the bowling for India and you were on 199 wickets today. Despite all the experience did you feel a bit of nerve?

Every match that I play for India, I feel the nerves. I always feel that pressure. And honestly speaking, I have hardly had lunch (between innings breaks) all my life. I can’t eat. It is added responsibility on me when we are playing big tournaments like this against South Africa. They are a quality side. When we scored 300 plus runs we know that they are going to try and hit, so I was just concentrating on my line. It was important to give early breakthroughs.

Yes, nerves are always there. I feel that it helps you concentrate more. It is a good thing for players to have that kind of nervousness.

As a fast bowler what has helped you sustain yourself for this long at the highest level?
I do a lot of training. I believe in my training. As a fast bowler, you have to train hard as there are a lot of ups and downs. When things aren’t working my way, it is the process that counts. I strongly believe that my training regime has helped me a lot because there is a lot of wear and tear. Injuries happen, but our schedule is such that we play one series, then we get a break of one or two months. So, I have got time to recover.

Which has been your most favourite wicket?

I remember each of my 200 wickets, right from the beginning of my international career in 2002. I still remember I got (Caroline) Atkins (the then England opener) out, caught in the slips. Mithali (Raj) was in the slip and she caught that catch. Whenever I bowl at a crucial time in the match and end a partnership, it becomes special for me. I cannot pick one. All the wickets are planned. Every wicket is important.

How do you look back on your long career?

So far whenever I have played, I have tried to give more than my hundred per cent on the field. I always play for my team, it is not about an individual (performance). Every day, every session and every match, I always enjoy. It is a huge honour for me to represent my country. Wearing the India jersey is a big honour for me. All these moments are very special moments in my career because iske elava mere life mein kuch nahi hai (there is nothing else in my life other than this). 

BCCI Staff

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