He could not capitalise on the opportunities to cement a place in India’s Test squad but Suresh Raina reckons that he has now matured as a batsman and is just waiting for another chance to prove his worth in the middle order.
Regarded as a one-day specialist, Raina has been a regular in India’s one-day team for long but his Test career could not really take off as he could manage just 768 runs for an average of 28.44 in 17 Tests.
“I have worked on my batting. If I get a chance to play Tests again, I won’t let it go unaccounted for sure. My career is shaping up well. I am hitting the ball well at the moment.
I am waiting for another chance and this time I am confident of performing well,” Raina told PTI in New Delhi.
“I have done pretty well in recent matches and I would like to stage a comeback. I don’t have a grudge, I don’t feel that somebody else has taken my place in the (Test) team. As long as the team is winning, I am a happy man,” he said.
The national selectors’ decision to ignore Raina for the ongoing four-Test series against Australia came as a surprise as the left-hander had amassed 277 runs at an average of 92.33 in the ODI series against England.
He struck form for the Rest of India squad in their Irani Trophy tie against Ranji champions Mumbai, hitting a classy hundred (134) in the first innings and then followed it up by scoring an equally impressive half century in the second essay.
Raina had lost his place in the Test team after an unimpressive show in the two-Test series against New Zealand in September and was subsequently not considered for the four-Test rubber against England.
For the ongoing Australia series, which India lead by 2-0, the selectors have preferred Ravindra Jadeja over him, especially because of the former’s effectiveness as a spin bowler on the turning wickets at home.
Jadeja justified his selection for the first two Tests with an impressive show with the ball, extending Raina’s wait for a Test recall.
“I am happy for Ravindra Jadeja, he is playing really well. He had scored a lot of runs (in the domestic season),” he said.
The prolong wait for a permanent berth in India’s Test team has not eroded Raina’s self-belief.
“What is important for me is playing cricket and not thinking about how my Test career is shaping up. I am not into future planning and all. I am concerned about my present and not the future,” he said.
The Uttar Pradesh player said there’s nothing more satisfactory than playing Test cricket and believed he could force his way back into the team if he continued to work hard.
“It feels great whichever format you are playing for Team India. I would definitely love to play more Test cricket. My aim is to play Test matches. For me, there is a different feel of Test cricket as it tests your character. You come to know about your mental toughness and most importantly, there is another level of satisfaction as a player,” Raina said.
Raina said he felt disappointed at not being picked for the Australia Test series.
“You feel disappointed sometimes, it’s quite obvious. But that particular phase does not linger on for too long. It goes with time. You start feeling like what’s next. My job is to perform, enjoy cricket and thank ‘God’ for whatever he has given me. Selection is not in my hand. My job is to perform for the country whenever you enter the ground,” he said.
Raina refused to react when asked about out-of-form opener Virender Sehwag’s axing from the Indian squad for the third and fourth Test against Australia.
“It’s up to the selectors to decide. He is a good player, he has performed well for the country. For me, what is good for the team, that’s important. Ultimately, winning is the most important thing.”
Raina also said that he is looking forward to performing well for the Chennai Super Kings in the upcoming IPL 6.