Suresh Raina: ‘There is still a lot left in me’

The southpaw is keen to make the most of his comeback to the national team.

Suresh Raina was as excited to see his match clothing for the South Africa tour as when he had made his debut.   -  Special Arrangement

Suresh Raina has expressed ‘hurt’ at having been ignored by the selectors for a spot in the Indian limited-overs teams “even after performing well.” The southpaw, who had last represented India in an international match in February last year, has been chosen to tour South Africa for three Twenty20 Internationals.

In August, Raina had failed to clear a Yo-Yo test, a form of fitness examination unofficially deemed vital to hold a spot in the Indian team. After some personal training sessions at the National Cricket Academy, Raina passed the test in December.

Raina said he was determined to make a comeback to the national team.

‘Confident’

“I was hurt on getting dropped even after performing well. But now I have cleared the Yo-Yo test and feeling so strong. During all these months of hard training, the desire to play for India again grew only so much stronger,” Raina told Aaj Tak. “I won’t leave it here. I have to play for India for as long as possible. I have to play the 2019 World Cup because I know I have done well in England. There is still a lot left in me and I am extremely confident of doing well in these three games in South Africa,” he said.

The 31-year-old has played 223 ODIs and 65 T20s, but he feels like a debutant again. “Yes, I am 31, but, as they say it, age is just a number. The other day when my match clothing arrived, I had the same feeling like I got before making my India debut. It is so special,” he said.

Hard work

Raina elaborated on how he coped with the time away from the national team.

“My family became my biggest strength during this trying time. I played a lot of domestic cricket and focused on clearing the Yo-Yo test too. I worked really hard on it at the NCA. I have always been fit during my entire career but it is just that at times you get injuries or niggles and that hampered the preparation to clear the test.”

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Raina knows a few good knocks in the Twenty20 format can help him move up the pecking order in the 50-over format ahead of the 2019 World Cup. “If you talk about the No. 4 slot in the ODIs, it is not an easy one to bat on. Most of the time the team is in a tricky situation when the No. 4 comes to bat, especially while chasing. One needs to attack, change the gears constantly. I personally feel that the No. 4 and No. 5 slots suit more my style of batting,” said Raina.