Raina can play at No 3, says coach | india | Hindustan Times
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Raina can play at No 3, says coach

The Indian team management finally refrained from going in with Suresh Raina as opener in place of the injured Gautam Gambhir. They were in two minds whether to push the Uttar Pradesh left-hander to the top of the order or keep faith in Rahul Dravid, who has done the job in the past, even in the second innings of the first Test. Finally, Dravid it was. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2011 01:40 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Suresh-Raina-R-avoids-a-ball-bowled-by-England-s-James-Anderson-during-the-fifth-day-of-the-first-Test-match-at-Lord-s-in-London
Suresh-Raina-R-avoids-a-ball-bowled-by-England-s-James-Anderson-during-the-fifth-day-of-the-first-Test-match-at-Lord-s-in-London

The Indian team management finally refrained from going in with Suresh Raina as opener in place of the injured Gautam Gambhir. They were in two minds whether to push the Uttar Pradesh left-hander to the top of the order or keep faith in Rahul Dravid, who has done the job in the past, even in the second innings of the first Test. Finally, Dravid it was.

Had Raina opened, it would have taken him a step closer towards his ambition of becoming India’s No. 3 batsman. Had he succeeded against the new ball, it would have bolstered his chances of taking over from Rahul Dravid, once he relinquishes his favourite position. In this line-up, at the moment, Raina has to bat at No. 6.

“He has always been a No. 3 bat since his school days. It’s my dream to see him establish himself at this position in Tests. From Martin Crowe to Ricky Ponting, the best batsmen have batted at that number. A No. 3 is used to facing the new ball as often he is in when the opener falls early,” said his coach, Deepak Sharma.

Sharma is the chief coach at the Sports College, Lucknow, where Raina honed his skills from 1999 to 2004. He was here to watch Raina play his first Test at Lord’s.

“I spoke to him before the start of play today and he sounded confident. He was dejected at being unable to save the Test with just 25 overs to play out, but he looks to have recovered,” said Sharma. Raina’s test will come later on but he has already made his mark in the second Test with two fine catches in the slips. First, he pouched Kevin Pietersen’s edge off Sreesanth, at third slip, and five overs later, took a blinder at the same position to send back Andrew Strauss.

It has been a dream comeback after he was dropped from the XI following the failure in the first Test against South Africa at Centurion. He got a place on the tour of the West Indies after a lot of players were unavailable. Since then, he has gone from strength-to-strength.

“He has always been a strong character; he takes up failures as a challenge. I called him in the West Indies to tell him that I would be coming to watch him play at Lord’s. He said, ‘Sir, the team is yet to be selected’. I told him, the way you are playing, there is no question about your selection,” he said. “My wish has been fulfilled and it was great to see him get runs (78 in 2nd innings) at the Mecca of cricket. Had the game been saved, it would have been an icing on the cake,” said Sharma.