‘Shot selection is an area Raina needs to work on’
Auckland: It is great to be a strokemaker but it is must for a batsman to have control over his shots to have continued success.
This precisely was the message for Suresh Raina from his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni after India’s 15-run loss in the second ODI at Hamilton.
India’s hopes had diminished when Virat Kohli got out in the 30th over of the innings but presence of Dhoni and Raina at the crease was still a cause for concern to the Kiwis.
And surprisingly, it was an out-of-sorts Raina who was the chief aggressor in that partnership. He scored 35 runs off 22 balls, with only six fours.
It was a scene enacted out of many similar run-chases the two batsmen have pursued for their IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings. For a short time, Indian hopes were up again, only to be dashed when Raina holed out. The frustration on Dhoni’s face told quite a tale.
“Raina is someone who plays aggressive cricket but it is important to have control over your mind as to what are the areas you want to hit. If it is not there to be hit, what are the other options you have got?,” said Dhoni, talking about Raina’s batting.
“It is not like you want to try and hit something and even if is not there to be hit, you still go for a big shot.”
There was nothing extra-ordinary about Raina’s innings, except that it was his second highest score since the 2013-14 season started for the Men in Blue with the seven-match ODI series at home against Australia.
He has had a poor run these three months against West Indies and South Africa thereafter – 39, DNB, 17, DNB, 16, 28, 0, 23, 34, 14, 36, DNB, and now in New Zealand 18 and 35.
On Wednesday evening at Seddon Park, however, coming in at number six, Raina was faced with a do-or-die situation. He did not have time to settle down and think about countering the short stuff aimed at him, in order to preserve his wicket.
The need of the hour was scoring runs and he looked to do so, hitting some aggressive pull-shots and earning three of his six boundaries in such fashion. Not having to worry about playing for time, he almost looked a different batsman, at least in comparison to the last twelve months.
“That (picking bad deliveries to hit) was something he did particularly well in this innings. Hopefully he will gather plenty of confidence after this innings and carry on longer in this manner,” said the Indian skipper.
Could this signal a prolonged outing for Raina at number six, then?
“We have to a see a few things. We cannot change opinions and strategies after one game. It was a certain kind of situation that demanded of him this particular innings. It was good,” said Dhoni, as always keeping his cards close to the chest.