Mumbai Ranji Trophy coach Pravin Amre tells Harish Kotian how Suresh Raina prepared for the ODI series in England.
It was no long ago that Suresh Raina was dropped from India’s One-Day International team after a string of poor scores. But the left-hander returned with a bang, scoring an entertaining 100 from 75 balls, to set up India’s 133-run victory over England in the second match in Cardiff, on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old all-rounder got the axe after a mediocre showing in the last few months, starting with the home series against Australia in October till the tour of New Zealand in January, which saw him fail to score a half-century in 15 innings. But he took the disappointment in his stride and worked hard on his batting in the off-season, including a few days with former India batsman Pravin Amre in Mumbai before leaving for England.
In recent years Amre, who was recently appointed Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy coach, has specialised in helping young batsmen regain lost form. Among those who benefited from a training stint with him are the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Naman Ojha and Abhishek Nayar.
During his a four-day stint with Amre, Raina worked on a few aspects of his batting, including his achilles heel, the short delivery.
“We worked on leaving the short deliveries during the four days we worked together,” Amre told Rediff.com on Thursday.
“We worked on the areas where he is good; like his ability to work the ball, hitting the big shots and backing himself to get in a good position for the short ball. Basically, not to hit, but leave the ball very well,” he added.
Raina's weakness against the short ball is well-documented and has seen him fail to realise his full potential in Test cricket. His natural attacking instincts make him attack the short ball, but, more often than not, it has resulted in him throwing his wicket away.
Amre, who played 11 Tests and 37 ODIs for India between 1991 to 94, however, rates Raina as one of the best finishers in limited-overs’ cricket.
“He is the most dangerous batsman or the best finishers in the game after (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni. He is a very destructive batsman and capable of winning matches on his own.”
Raina hit 12 fours and three sixes in his 75-ball knock, putting on 144 runs for the fifth wicket with captain Dhoni, helping India blast 147 runs in the last 15 overs.
“It is important to finish in an ODI innings, and he finished it perfectly. The team must have been looking for a score of around the 260-run mark but Raina’s amazing innings helped them cross the 300-run mark, which proved to be a winning score on that wicket,” Amre said.
The Mumbai coach also pointed out that Raina’s mental strength separates him from the other Indian batsmen.
“It is important to note that this was Raina’s first game on the tour. He hardly played any matches in India because it is off-season now, and even in the practice match before the ODIs he came in at No. 11 and faced only a couple of balls.
“That shows he is mentally prepared to take up any challenge. In the last 10 overs with Dhoni he went on the attack and took the England bowlers apart. Even in World Cup in 2011 he played an important innings in the quarter-finals against Australia to take India to victory. So he has an important role to play and is doing it quite well,” he said.
Amre believes that Raina, who was an integral part of India’s triumph in the 2011 World Cup, will again hold the key to the team’s fortunes in the next edition of the tournament in Australia-New Zealand next year.
“Obviously, he will be a key player for India at the World Cup next year. He is a complete package, he can win matches on his own with the bat, he is a brilliant fielder at any position and can also bowl some overs,” he said.