Raina feels reborn after seeking Ganguly’s advice

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

“I got a lot of positive vibes from dada (Ganguly)”

India batsman Suresh Raina has revealed that he feels reborn and ready for the World Twenty20 after seeking the advice of former captain Sourav Ganguly.

Raina was dropped for the recently concluded Asia Cup since he only managed to score one half-century in his last 24 innings.

“When you are down and out, that’s when you realise who is ready to help you, who is your friend and who can be a good guide,” Raina told ABP News. “Sourav Ganguly was one such man. I spoke to him and he instantly was eager to help me. We spoke a lot, and he told me that I needed to work hard on my footwork, and on my mind. He is a good coach of batting and motivated me a lot when I was mentally down. Our batting style also is very similar and we spoke about the short ball, footwork and making a comeback. I got a lot of positive vibes from dada (Ganguly). He told me a lot on trusting my own ability, and spoke about minor things that I had overlooked for some time.”

However, Raina believes that people underestimate how valuable his small contributions can be.

“Every channel I watched and every newspaper I read, I realised everyone was only talking about my form, and how bad it was,” he said. “They kept arguing that I have had no half-centuries in the last 25-odd games and how my averages are in a particular format, and so forth. There is an obsession with numbers and statistics, but that is so harsh on a cricketer. He cannot be judged purely by statistics, performance is subjective.

“I have played several crucial 35-run knocks coming down the order, it’s not easy to play with tail-enders. People never realised that India has often ended with chasing in a lot of these ODIs, and batting lower down in chasing a target is a high-pressure job. Only MS Dhoni and Mike Hussey have a good average in world cricket batting so lower down.”

After being scrutinised so many times, Raina admitted that he thought every match he played would be his last.

“Lately, I used to get onto the field thinking I have to do well, this is my last chance to bat, this is my last chance to get a big score, this is the last catch I will be taking,” he said. “So I needlessly put undue pressure on me and it made me nervous, and that’s where I made a mistake. I started thinking that every match is my last match, because suddenly it seemed everyone was only talking about me.”

However, Raina also noted that he is “not making excuses” for his under par performances with the bat.

“I am not making excuses,” he said. “I made mistakes, I could have got more fifties, more runs. I lost my concentration at crucial times that led to my downfall before. But what I am saying is I love to play for my team, not for an individual score. In this break, I have realised one thing very clearly, there is no need to change my game. I only need to get better at playing my style. I am a 30-ball 50 batsman and I would never try and become a 60-ball 50 batsman.

“I have learnt to take my time at the crease, try and bat more consciously and the need to score lot of runs. I have seen my old videos and that has given me a lot of confidence, it has made me realise of the mistakes that I have made. It has been 7-8 years that I have been playing virtually non-stop cricket. I got no rest and this time it was a forced break. In many ways, it helped, though as a player you never liked to be dropped. It allowed me to spend time with my family, be a good son and allowed me to recharge again to play cricket. I played the Vijay Hazare Trophy and got some good practice before the World T20.”

Raina finished off by saying that he was determined to prove his worth during the World Twenty20.

“I saw the Asia Cup sitting at home from a third man’s perspective and realised that the team needs me,” he said. “I have a role to play with this team. I just need to get back among runs, do well at this World T20 and maybe force my way back into the ODI side with the 2015 World Cup in mind.”

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