Raina backs Ishant to come good
Ishant Sharma is not alone in his testing times. The Delhi medium pacer should find solace in the comforting words of teammate Suresh Raina.
Despite the criticism and calls for the pacer's ouster after he conceding 30 runs in an over, Raina hinted that the beleaguered bowler could be retained for Wednesday's fourth ODI against Australia at the JSCA stadium in Ranchi.
He said Ishant worked really hard in the last couple of days to overcome the disastrous 48th over in Mohali that cost India the third One-dayer, which gave the Aussies a 2-1 lead.
"I hope Ishant would be strong in his mindset and approach the match in a positive manner. He has really worked hard in the last two days," said Raina.
Image: Ishant Sharma celebrates with Suresh Raina (left)
Photographs: Michael Steele/Getty Images
'We are not getting the ball to reverse, while the spinners are also not getting turn'
"Our bowlers are doing well. Our think-tank is strong and have good planning. Bowlers are training hard for the last two days. The harder they work the better they will perform. Hopefully, we will do really well against the Aussies tomorrow," he said.
Admitting that adjusting to the new ODI rules is proving difficult for the bowlers, he said: "We are not getting the ball to reverse, while the spinners are also not getting turn, as with two balls it does not get old. But we have no excuses. We have to do well under the circumstances.
"We have to admit that it's tough for the bowlers. When five players are inside (the circle), it's obviously going to be difficult for the part-timers, as your regular bowlers are not doing well.”
Image: India's coach Duncan Fletcher with Ishant Sharma in the nets
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
'More pressure on the bowlers nowadays'
"Bowlers come under pressure as to what line and length they have to try when five players are inside. You're allowed to bowl two bouncers, but, then, you have to bowl four more balls after that."
Raina said player will have to live up to the challenge laid out by the ICC.
"No complains, as we have to play under the ICC Playing Conditions. Players will have to do their job."
Asked whether 15-20 runs per over has become the norm, he replied: "The players are used to the Indian bowlers after six IPLs. There's a positive as well as negative aspect to it. There is more pressure on the bowlers nowadays."
Image: Vikay Kumar (centre)
'It's been a good contest so far'
Despite trailing the series 1-2, Raina said the team is not under any pressure.
"We won the first match in the Pune. Then they won and we did in the next. It's been a good contest so far. Our batting is clicking and sometimes bowling. The team which plays well on that given day will win. It's about your aura in the field and mental toughness."
He further said the seven-wicket win over England in the last match on January 19 will inspire the players to do well in Ranchi.
"We have done well against England in the last match here. Definitely, we will try to do well again. Just hope that it will be our day tomorrow."
Raina is seen as the No 4 batsman in Dhoni's scheme of things for World Cup 2015 and the 26-year-old said he is enjoying batting at the key position.
Image: Team India
'The No 4 spot belongs to me'
"I've played many matches at No 4 and 6. I had a top edge in the last match but I'm batting well and feeling fine and positive. The No 4 spot belongs to me in the upcoming matches and I hope I do well," he added.
Insisting that the World Cup is still a long way to go, he said the team is just focusing on Wednesday's match.
"We can't say what will happen after two days or weeks. Our main focus now is to beat Australia. It's a long way to go. Tomorrow's match is more important and we are getting ready for it. It's about taking one match at a time."
Asked whether he considers Dhoni his role model, Raina replied: "He has been batting well over the years. I've learnt a lot from him and Yuvraj Singh. He's a finisher in ODI and T20 cricket."
On Dhoni's trademark helicopter shot, Raina said it exclusively belongs to the Indian skipper.
"That's Mahi's exclusive. He has specialised on that and it suits him only. It's amazing the way he clears the ball with his full strength... It's amazing! He has practised it a lot. We have our gameplan. We just have to stay positive."
In a lighter vein, he said the team may have dinner at Dhoni's residence after the match.
Image: Suresh Raina
'I hope Sachin scores centuries in his last two Tests'
Australia's leading bowler Mitchell Johnson is troubling the Indians with his pace and bounce, but Raina said: "No doubt, he is bowling well. Our planning is equally good against him. We have to do well especially in the middle order. Myself, Yuvibhai and (Ravindra) Jadeja will have to do well."
He said it will be a dream come true for him if he can make a comeback in Sachin Tendulkar's farewell two-Test series against the West Indies next month.
"Personally, for me, the next four ODIs are very important, as I've to make a comeback into the Test squad. It (Tendulkar's 200th Test) will be a dream Test for me, whether I play or not. He is the world's No 1 batsman and, more importantly, a good human being. It will be a sad moment for all of us. It's a very important moment for his family. I hope he scores centuries in both of his last two Tests."
Image: Sachin Tendulkar with teammates