India ‘A’ captain Suresh Raina said it’s a long season of Test matches and One-Day Internationals, he’s hitting the ball well and he and other fringe players are looking forward to make the most of the opportunities starting with the match against England at the Brabourne Stadium from Tuesday.

“This game is very important for me. If I score runs here, it’ll help me, but if I don’t then it’s up to the selectors. If I do well here I will play the next four Tests.

“Yes, there is a lot of healthy competition between myself, Yuvraj, Tiwary and Vijay and the others. Everyone has to take his place seriously and whatever is going to come our way, we have got to take it. I want to enjoy myself and look to score the big runs,’’ said Raina in between the team’s practice session.

When pointed that he has not met with success in Test matches as much he has in one-dayers and Twenty20 he said: “It’s just the mental aspect. 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. The more Test matches I play, I will understand my game better. I’ve already played many ODI’s for India and five 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 sort of defended his aggressive ways of batting in Test matches. “If you see the big players like Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen they look to dominate the bowling. Sometimes risks pay off, sometimes they don’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 the success of the England seam attack will depend on how they use the SG Test ball. “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 and Umesh Yadav. It’ll be important how to handle the SG Test ball in humid cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. We also have Ashwin and Ojha who have been amazing. England has good seamers like Finn, Broad, Anderson and Bresnan.’’

Responding to Andrew Strauss’ retirement that has put England in a plight at the top order he said: “Yes, that’s a loss, but they have a huge positive in the form of Pietersen’s return. He wasn’t there earlier, but now he’s back and that’s a big positive for them.’’

Raina said he has played a lot at the Brabourne Stadium and that the wicket prepared for the match looks good.

“I’ve played here for Air-India in the Times of India Shield, IPL and in Under-19 games. It (pitch) gives good bounce to the bowlers. The first two hours are going to be crucial and that is where the openers come into play. We have two openers (Vijay and Mukund) who have played Test cricket for India.’’

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