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Benched Raina ready for action

Youngster Suresh Raina says he is "not upset with not getting a chance and is very confident of doing well when he finally gets one", reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Feb 16, 2008 03:27 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

This Indian team is young and restless. All the 17 in the squad for the tri-series came here with the intention of competing but just 12 have got a chance so far. It could well have been 11 had Yuvraj Singh not missed the first match because of injury.

For journalists travelling with the team, it was a chance to listen to this unobserved bunch on Friday as the team management thought of letting some of them do something different than confining them to the nets.

So even though Suresh Raina would have liked to let his bat do the talking, it was his turn to speak to the media.

As has been the obsession of the Australian press, the southpaw had to face queries on whether sledging should be banned. After declining to comment, came the question on what the team's stand on the issue was. That ended Raina's interaction for the day.

Before that, there was some talk on the joy of making it back to the Indian contingent and also the agony of being consigned to the bench after having been a favourite of Greg Chappell, who used him in different positions in the batting order. "I'm not upset with not getting a chance and am very confident of doing well when I finally get one. I've learnt a lot in the time when I was out. I worked on my back lift, how to position the body while driving. Those lessons will come in handy when I play."

Raina's last tour with the team was to South Africa in December 2006 and had to undergo surgery on his left knee soon after. So what exactly did he learn in this difficult phase? "My understanding of situations has changed. I have learnt how to approach the game while batting in different positions, to play according to the demand of the situation and also change my game depending on who the other batsman is."

Having scored heavily in the Ranji Trophy, Raina said Yuvraj Singh had been a good influence. "He has batted a lot in the No. 6 position, where you don't get much of a chance to settle down and are still expected to score. I don't know when my chance will come, but I am ready to put all my lessons into practice when it does."

It's not going to be easy. Even if there is an opening, there are competitors for the slot. Manoj Tiwary got just one chance and Dinesh Karthik has been travelling with the team since the Test series, without getting a chance. "I know there is competition, but I am just staying positive and trying to maintain the intensity."

Harbhajan skips practice

The Indians had another intense practice session in the morning with the players looking to make most of the hours spent working hard. Harbhajan Singh was the one missing and the manager said he had a stomach problem. The off-spinner was back in the evening when some of the members played tennis and did some light workout.

The net session in the morning was so intense that almost everyone around was tempted to get going despite the testing sun. Selector Bhupinder Singh left his perch next to colleague Sanjay Jagdale behind the nets and joined the players. The former Punjab medium-pacer bowled for quite a while, as did the video analyst Dhananjay.