Ind vs Aus: Raina proved he can handle short balls well, says Pravin Amre
Team India director Ravi Shastri's 'endeavour' to see Suresh Raina back into the Test team has come true after the national selectors recalled the southpaw for this month's Australia tour.
Suresh Raina. Pic/Getty Images
Recently, Shastri spoke highly of Raina's Test chances despite the fact that left-hander last played a Test in 2012 and hasn't played any first-class cricket this year. Raina had also been dropped from the ODI squad for the last Asia Cup.
'Brilliant to watch'
"The more I see him play, he is brilliant to watch. It will be my endeavour really to do something that will get him back into the Indian Test match team. He is a class act. At the nets, when the ball hits the bat, just that sound or sense of timing you know it is something different. Let's hope, fingers crossed," Shastri had said last month.
It is not just Shastri's endeavour. Raina is very eager to make a mark as a Test batsman himself after playing more than 200 ODIs.
Raina, who turns 28 on November 27, sent an SOS to Pravin Amre, the former India batsman and his coach at Air-India, to sort out his weakness against short balls.
He knew the limited overs tour to England in August would be a big step towards changing that perception. Raina practiced specifically to iron out his flaws against short balls with Amre at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) indoor nets for a couple of weeks before flying to England.
"I wanted to use the wet ball technique that I tried with Ajinkya Rahane, but I didn't get enough time with Suresh. I would stand at around 18 yards and hit the tennis ball with racquet to help him deal with the short balls and pace," Amre told mid-day yesterday.
There was a considerable improvement as far as handling the chin music was concerned. Raina scored 160 in the three innings against England — the second highest for India after Rahane (192 in four innings). Television experts also discussed his handling of short balls at length.
Amre refrained from commenting on whether Raina has conquered his short ball problem, but said the England series gave him confidence. "I want people to talk about how he plays the short balls in Australia, but the way he handled the England pacers was phenomenal. He proved he can handle short balls well. To come back into the Test team with so much competition is brilliant," said Amre.
Sachin's tips helped too
Raina's close friend, former Uttar Pradesh teammate and his former manager Ali Hamid Zaidi revealed that the southpaw also took tips from Sachin Tendulkar while at the BKC facility. "Sachin gave him few tips on facing short balls. That was also great help to Suresh as he played with positive intent in England. The Asia Cup snub has made him more determined to prove his critics wrong," said Zaidi.