Confident Raina eyes comeback to Test team
Suresh Raina has been in red hot form in the last few months having scored four half-centuries on the trot in the ODIs against England and broken into the top 10 of the ICC ODI batting rankings for the first time in his career.
But it has been a complete reverse for the left-hander in Test cricket, having failed to replicate his success from the limited overs format into the longer version.
His Test records read a poor 768 runs in 17 Tests at an average of 28.44 despite starting with a century on debut (120 vs Sri Lanka in July 2010) as compared to his ODI record of 4068 runs in 159 matches at an average of 36.98, where he started with a duck.
The 26-year-old will looking to make another stake for a place in the Test team when he turns out for the Rest of India team against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in the five-day Irani Trophy match to be played at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai from February 6-10.
'I have been working hard on my game'
Along with Raina a host of other players like Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth, Murali Vijay, Wriddhiman Saha and Abhimanyu Mithun would be looking to impress the selectors and make it back to the Indian Test team.
"It is a very important match. Mumbai has done well to win the Ranji Trophy this season but our team also has good players so it will be a good contest. Personally also it will be very important because if I can manage a big score then I will get another opportunity in Test cricket. I am working very hard and hoping that I can score big runs in this match," Raina said in Mumbai on Monday.
He stressed that he has done a lot of hard work as far as his batting his concerned to improve his game for the Test format.
"I have been working hard on my game. You need to learn how you are going to survive out there and for that you need to be mentally perfect and you need to have a lot of experience by playing a lot of domestic matches. I have played a lot of domestic matches this season and done well and also spent a lot of time with the UP boys," the left-hander said.
Raina is confident that if he gets his act right and gets more chances to prove his worth, he will end up with a minimum of 50-60 Test matches.
"I have done well initially but didn't get runs against England. I have been batting well but I need to be more solid, need to be mentally strong. If you look at it I got just three innings against New Zealand out of which I scored 55 in one of them. I am not thinking about anything because I have played 17 Test matches so far. I am a sort of guy who always believes in hard work, always believe in discipline and I know that if I work hard on my game I will easily play 50-60 Test matches," he said.
'You need to follow your instincts'
Raina has been found wanting as far as his technique is concerned in Test cricket with a lot of his dismissals caused as a result of the pull shot, which the opposition bowlers have successfully exploited over the years.
But the left-hander believes that it is important to continue to play your natural game but at the same time also be selective with your shot-making.
"You need to follow your instincts. If you get the ball in your areas then it is important to play your shots. You also need to score runs and dominate the bowlers.
"Players like Viv Richards and Virender Sehwag or some other players who have scored runs in attacking fashion have not only played shots but also given respect to the bowlers when needed.
"Generally you need to bat for five hours to score a Test hundred but Viru bhai is that kind of player who can get a hundred in one or two hours. But for a player like me I know that even if I spend three or four hours at the wicket then I will score a hundred. So the more time you spend out in the middle, the more runs you will score," he said.