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Raina wants revenge on England for whitewash 'pain'

Last updated on: October 29, 2012 18:09 IST

Raina wants revenge on England for whitewash 'pain'

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The three-day tour match between India 'A' and England will be more than a practice game for players from both teams.

For England, who have won just one Test in India since 1985, it is a chance to get acclimatised to the conditions before the all-important four-Test series later this month.

For India 'A', it presents a chance for a few players to impress the selectors and break into the Test squad.

Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Manoj Tiwary will be hoping to score big and stake claim for the No 6 position in the Indian Test team, while Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund are eyeing the opener's slot incase the selectors look beyond the out-of-form duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

India 'A' captain Raina, who scored just 58 runs in three innings when New Zealand toured India last month, is looking forward to silence his critics with a big innings at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai.

"This game is very important for me. If I score runs here, it'll help me, but if I don't, then it is up to the selectors. If I do well here, I will play the next four Tests," said Raina, on the eve of the match, on Monday.

Image: Suresh Raina walks out of the field after an India A practice session at Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Monday


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'I know where I stand as far as Test cricket is concerned'

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"There is a lot of healthy competition between myself, Yuvraj, Tiwary and Vijay. Everyone has to take their places seriously and whatever is going to come our way, we have got to take it. Whoever gets runs, it is then up to the selectors who they want to pick. I want to enjoy myself and look to score big runs," the left-hander added.

The 25-year-old is one of India's top batsmen in One-Day Internationals and T20s, but yet to establish himself in the Test arena. He has 768 runs in 17 Tests, at an average of 28.44, against his ODI record of 3699 runs 151 matches, at 35.56, and 768 runs in 32 T20s, at an average of 33.39.

While Raina's weakness against short bowling is common knowledge, the batsman believes his problem is more mental than technical.

"It is just the mental aspect. I have given all that I have had to Test cricket, but a lot of people say and write a lot of things. But I know where I stand as far as Test cricket is concerned," he opined.

Image: India A players at a practice session at the Brabourne stadium on Monday
Photographs: Harish Kotian/Rediff.com
Tags: ODI , India , Tiwary

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'I know what the coach and captain expect me to do at No 6'

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"Batting at No 6 is not that easy and very often you get stuck with the tail and have to bat around them. I scored fifties in the West Indies and England and I even batted well against Australia in 2010. I have played 16 or 17 Tests, but as I play more games I will understand my game better. I have already played 150 ODIs for India and have played six years of IPL. I know what the coach and selectors expect from me and what they need me to do at No. 6. I love to play my natural game and I love to hit the ball," he added.

The left-hander added that he would not change his aggressive style of batting when playing in Tests and is taking inspiration from players like Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen, who are known for their attacking batting in Tests.

"If you see all the big players -- like Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen -- they look to dominate the bowling. Sometimes, the risks pay off sometimes they don't and you get out. I'm looking to learn as much as I can about my Test match batting so that I can improve my performances," he said.

Image: Manoj Tiwary walks off the field after the India A practice session at Brabourne stadium on Monday
Photographs: Harish Kotian/Rediff.com

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'Yuvi is my role model but I want to play the Tests series against England'

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Despite competing with Yuvraj for a place in the Test team, Raina is excited about playing alongside the left-hander, who has made a strong comeback since being diagnosed with lung cancer earlier in the year.

"Yuvi is my role model. I would love to see him back in Test whites. I want that spot too, but I am not thinking on who the spot will go to. Yuvraj has just comeback from a big disease. It is up to the selectors who they want to pick. He is a big role model for me and others, but I want to play these four Tests against England."

India were whitewashed 4-0 in the Test series in England last year, and Raina, who was part of that team, is keen to extract revenge for the humiliation.

"I was there in England and I feel the pain of losing that series 0-4. I want to give some of that pain back," he said.

Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Rediff archives
Tags: Raina , England , India

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'It depends on how well England seamers handle the SG ball'

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And the left-hander is confident that England's pacers will not have the same effect they had last year on India's batsmen.

India touched the 300-run mark just once in eight innings as they time and again failed to live up to reputation with the bat.

"There is a big difference in the SG Test and Duke balls. We have the bowlers who know how to get the SG Test ball to reverse swing like Zak (Zaheer Khan) and Umesh Yadav. It will be important to handle the SG Test ball in humid cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. We also have Ashwin and Ojha who have been amazing. The England team have some good seamers like [Steve] Finn, [Stuart] Broad and [James] Anderson, but it depends on how they can handle the SG Test ball," he said.

Raina believes that Pietersen's return is a big boost for England's chances in the Tests. The right-hander was originally not picked in the 16-member squad following some off field drama during the Test series against South Africa earlier in the year. However, after a series of meetings with the ECB and his team-mates he was drafted back into the team.

Image: India A players at a practice session at the Brabourne stadium on Monday
Photographs: Harish Kotian/Rediff.com
Tags: England , ECB , Ojha , Mumbai , Zak

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'KP's return is a big positive for them'

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"They have a huge positive in the form of KP's return. He wasn't there earlier, but now he is back and that's a big positive for them."

Raina was troubled by off-spinner Graeme Swann during the England tour last year and he revealed he is working with former India player Pravin Amre to iron out the chinks in his batting.

"I asked him about Swann. He troubled me a lot in England and got me out four or five times. He asked me to keep my shoulder over the ball and my eyes in line with the ball," he said.

"Pravin told me I have been batting well, but the time has come to change my game now. The button has to be pressed," Raina added.

Meanwhile, India 'A' coach Lalchand Rajput believes that all his players are taking the match seriously and looking to do well.

"It is a good match because the players are getting the chance to play against an international team. Everyone knows that the slots available so everybody is keen to play this game and hopefully they will play well and grab the slot that is vacant in the Indian team," he said.


Image: Kevin Pietersen
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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