Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar lavished praise on Suresh Raina's match-winning knock in the second One-Day International against England in Cardiff on Wednesday and rated the left-hander's hundred as one of the best ODI innings overseas.
"You have got to rate it as one of the best innings. You can't call it the top innings overseas. It's got to be Kapil Dev's 175 against Zimbabwe in the Prudential Cup in 1983, when India were five down for 17 on a pitch that was a lot more greener than any of the present pitches.
"So Raina's will be one of the top innings that was played by an Indian in overseas conditions," Gavaskar told NDTV.
‘Raina showed maturity’
Raina, who registered his fourth ODI ton, his first outside the sub-continent, stroked a belligerent 75-ball 100 to help the visitors trounce England by 133-runs (D/L method).
Gavaskar said the batsman's maturity floored him.
"Again, the way he adjusted his batting, the way he adjusted his bat speed, showed his maturity and it's very refreshing to see that in a batsman," said the former India skipper.
He said Raina has always given 100 per cent to the team.
"Raina has always played cricket with an energy which is always so rare in Indian cricket. He is all the time there, whether it is batting, bowling or fielding. He is one of those guys who give everything.
"And, more importantly, he has developed a sense of assessing the situation that the team finds itself in. Adjusting his batting accordingly. That is what he exactly did. He played himself in at the start, and when it was required he opened his shoulders. Struck some powerful shots to get to his hundred in 74 balls. Fantastic batting!" said Gavaskar.
Raina, 27, was not part of India's Test side against England and Gavaskar was of the view that having a player who is not part of a losing squad is a big plus.
"I have always believed that when a team has lost very badly you need some players who haven't had that trauma of those losses. The trauma of sitting in a dejected and desolate dressing room," said Gavaskar.
Chasing a revised target of 295 in 47 overs, the Alastair Cook-led side was bundled out for 161 in 38.1 overs. The Indian bowlers, for once, looked good, with Ravindra Jadeja bagging four wickets, and Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin two apiece.
Spinners did well
Gavaskar was all praise for the spinners too.
"I think there was little bit of turn which certainly helped the spinners, Jadeja, in particular, was getting the ball to turn a bit. He doesn't give the ball too much air and it's not easy to go down the pitch and attack him, especially when the ball is turning. When the ball is not turning he can get predictable and when the ball is turning he is a difficult man to get after.
"Ashwin bowled quite well. He bowled at a slower speed; whenever he has tries to bowl quicker he is easier to bat. Both of them bowled well, but, more importantly, the pressure told on the English batsman as India had got 300-plus runs.
"If India had not got so many runs, the pressure would not have been on England. They couldn't afford too many dot balls and were required to hit more often," said the cricketer-turned commentator.