Suresh Raina draws attention towards Duleep Trophy

Raina stressed that first-class cricket was the foundation for classy cricketers while pointing out that the Under-16 or Under-19 tournaments had a role in the overall development of the players, and each one was invaluable in its own way.

Suresh Raina: "We grew up playing all types of cricket, the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy, Cooch-Behar, under-16, under-19 etc."   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

In the fast changing world of instant cricket, Suresh Raina is a purist’s delight, as he stresses the importance of having a strong foundation.

He may have fallen out of favour with the national selectors but an impressive 5938 ODI runs, 10,243 first-class runs apart from 4936 Twenty20 runs, scream efficiency in all three formats.

Praising his team, India Blue, for putting up a fine performance against India Red, the 30-year-old said that it could have been a lot better but for the rain, which washed away play on the third day of the second league match at the Green Park ground.

‘’As a player, you always want to play and entertain the crowd’’, said Raina, as he rued the lost time.

He did compliment the umpires and the groundsmen for making every effort to resume play after a heavy spell of rain on Friday, but was categorical in his assessment that the authorities needed to take responsibility.

‘’I don’t know what they had or what they don’t, but we need to take Duleep Trophy seriously. The ground was good, but we could not play. Credit to the groundsmen who worked very hard and did a splendid job’’, said Raina, quite clear that loss of play possibly cost his team victory.

Duleep Trophy holds sway

Raina stressed that first-class cricket was the foundation for classy cricketers. He also pointed out that every event, be it the Under-16 or Under-19 had its role in the overall development of the cricketers, and each one was invaluable in its own way.

"We grew up playing all types of cricket, the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy, Cooch-Behar, under-16, under-19 etc. Every event is relevant", he said.

Revealing a bit of an open secret, Raina said that at the Green Park, a batsman could flourish if he played straight.

"We look to play solid. If you play straight, nobody can get you out on this ground", Raina said.

He was all praise for a bunch of cricketers who utilised the opportunity to be ready for the next game, and possibly the final, to be played later in Lucknow.

Sharma revels in taking wickets

On his part, Karn Sharma, the leg spinner who has been among wickets, having taken 15 from three innings so far, said that it was "always good to take wickets."

Karn, the star bowler for India Red, said he was unwell during the Blues innings and had to be out for medication before dazzling with the ball. India Blue helped itself to two centuries through Hanuma Vihari and Deepak Hooda that saw the team take the first innings lead in the truncated match that ended in a draw.

"We are looking forward to the final, as we are on top with seven points", said Karn, as he drew attention to his team’s victory over India Green in the first match that had fetched six points.