I want to give some pain back to England: Raina
After a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of England last year in their backyard, it will be payback time when India take on the English side in the four-Test series starting at Ahmedabad next month, said middle-order batsman Suresh Raina here today.
"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," said the Uttar Pradesh batsman, who would be leading India 'A' against the tourists in a three-day warm-up game at the Cricket Club of India here from tomorrow.
Raina was of the opinion that the use of SG Test balls in the forthcoming series would be helpful to Indian seamers.
"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'll be important how to handle the SG Test ball in humid cities like Kolkata and Mumbai.
"We also have (Ravidhandran) Ashwin and (Pragyan) Ojha who have been amazing. The England team has good seamers like (Steve) Finn, (Stuart) Broad, (James) Anderson and it depends on how they can handle the SG Test ball," Raina insisted. While the retirement of Andrew Strauss was a blow to England, the return of Kevin Pietersen into their ranks after his patch-up with other team members was a big boost to the tourists' hopes, said Raina.
"Yes, that is (Strauss's retirement) a loss, but they have a huge positive in the form of KP's return. He wasn't there earlier, but now he's back and that's a big positive for them." The 25-year-old left-handed batsman, who is fighting for the lone middle order spot in the Indian Test side with his "role model" Yuvraj Singh, said it was up to the selectors to fill the No. 6 slot.
"Yuvraj has just come back from a serious illness. He's a big role model for me and others. I would love to see him back in whites. I want that spot too. I want to play these four Tests against England. But I'd rather not dwell on who the spot will go to. Its upto the selectors who they want to pick," Raina said.
Talking about the warm-up game, Raina said: "This game is very important for me. If I score runs here, it'll help me, but if I don't then its upto the selectors. If I do well here, I will play the next four Tests."
Raina, meanwhile, informed that he got tips from former Test batsman Pravin Amre on how to deal with England off spinner Graeme Swann, who has troubled him in the past. "I asked him about Swann. He troubled me a lot in England and got me out four or five times. He (Amre) told me to keep my shoulder over the ball and my eyes in line with the ball," Raina said when asked about the specifics of his discussion with the former cricketer.
He added that the three-day match against the visitors will be good opportunity for the likes of Yuvraj and Ashok Dinda, apart from his own self, to prepare themselves for a long season ahead. "Its a long season. We have Tests and then the one-dayers. Its (India 'A' game) a good opportunity for guys like myself, Yuvraj and Dinda. I want to enjoy myself and look to score big runs," he said.
India played two Tests against New Zealand earlier in August-September this year and are set to play four Tests each against England and Australia, who would tour the country in the latter part of the 2012-13 season.
Raina, who has a modest Test record averaging just under 30 from 17 Tests, said he knew where he stood in the longest form of the game. "Its just the mental aspect. I've 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.
"Batting at No. 6 is not that easy, 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've played 16 or 17 Tests, but as I play more games, I will understand my game better. I've 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," Raina said.
He dismissed suggestions that his lack of success in Tests was because he tried to play too many shots too soon. "No. If you see all the big players like Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen, they look to dominate the bowling. Sometimes, the risk pays off sometimes it doesn'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. On the absence of front-line spinners in his team, Raina said there were part-timers like himself, Yuvraj and Manoj Tiwary who would help complete the 90-over quota in a day.
"I, Yuvraj and Manoj Tiwary can bowl spin. I'll manage the over-rate," he reckoned. He said the track would offer some assistance to the bowlers in the initial couple of hours. "It's a good wicket. I've played here for Air India in the Times Shield, in under-19 games and in the IPL. It offers good bounce to the bowlers. The first two hours are going to be crucial and that is where the openers come into play," Raina concluded.