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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014
Dharamsala ODI: India look to keep the momentum going
N Ananthanarayanan, Hindustan Times
Dharamsala, January 27, 2013
First Published: 01:14 IST(27/1/2013)
Last Updated: 08:46 IST(27/1/2013)

Suresh Raina was winding up his press conference when he was asked whether the scenic Dhauladhar ranges in the backdrop or the snow glistening on its slopes could distract the fielders or make sighting the white ball difficult.

"Not at all," he grinned.

The question was light-hearted no doubt as this picturesque stadium gears up to stage its first one-day international on Sunday, an inconsequential final game between India and England.

However, neither team can get carried away by the beautiful setting, particularly India, whose series win has only helped halt its slide after the Test series defeat against England and the loss to Pakistan in the ODIs raised serious questions about the team's ability to win even at home.

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Skipper MS Dhoni dropped the idea of skipping the game to rest his right thumb, which was injured in Mohali on Tuesday. He trained hard on Saturday and batting for long in the nets. With his stock as captain taking a dip, it's his fine form with the bat that is helping him stay afloat.

Suresh Raina too can't afford to relax. In Mohali, the left-hander underlined his credentials as a finisher by lashing 89 not out to help India take an unassailable 3-1 lead. But the 26-year-old has struggled in Test cricket despite scoring a century on debut, in Sri Lanka in 2008.

He has struggled against short-pitched and seaming deliveries. But he is hopeful he will get another opportunity against Australia in the home series starting on February 22.

"I've played well. Against New Zealand, I got 55, then didn't get runs. In Ranji, I led UP to four outright wins, scored a hundred and three fifties. I am batting really well, so hopefully I score one more big innings and get into the Test team," Raina said.

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Testing Time
Raina last played a Test in the home series against New Zealand in August-September.

He made 3 in the first Test and 55 and nought in the next to be omitted. But the No 6 slot is still unsettled, as Yuvraj Singh could not make his recall against England count.

Dhoni said Raina could be promoted up the order in ODIs, and Raina can't wait for that.

"Definitely, I would love to bat up the order. You get 10-15 overs when you are batting at No 6 or 7. But as long as I play for India, winning is more important for me than batting up the order."

Many members of England will head to New Zealand, to play three T20s, ODIs and Tests from Feb.4. But the 22-year-old Joe Root has been steady with the bat and his off-spin. His late charge in Mohali only underlined the slender Yorkshireman's talent.

His efforts have earned him a T20 spot in New Zealand after young left-arm spinner Danny Briggs hurt his ankle at training here.

Raina expected appreciable seam movement in the morning, which makes the toss crucial.

The start of play has been pushed back by 30 minutes to 9.30 am, as there is heavy dew on the ground in the morning.


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