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'Raina could be player of next decade'

"His temperament and technique were outstanding," Rahul Dravid said.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 18:06 IST

After Suresh Raina scored an unbeaten 81 to propel India to a four-wicket win over England on Friday, captain Rahul Dravid predicted the left-hander could be the player of the next decade.

"His temperament and technique (during the 131-minute innings) were outstanding," Dravid told reporters after India took a 2-0 lead in the seven-match series at the Nahar Singh Stadium.

"For a 20-year-old, he is a very exciting talent. He has a long way to go.

"And if he keeps improving and keeps learning very seriously, he could be the cricketer of the next decade," said Dravid about the player to whom he has been a childhood hero.

Raina (89 balls, 8x4s, 1x6) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38, 55 balls, 2x4s) raised 118 runs off just 129 balls for the sixth wicket, which ensured India's victory with one over to spare.

"Suresh and Dhoni set up the game for us," acknowledged Dravid.

Raina and Dhoni came together after India lost the top five specialist batsmen for just 92 runs.

And the captain admitted that there were some areas in which his team needed improvement. One such area was the second successive failure of the top order.

Raina, who recently starred in Uttar Pradesh's first Ranji Trophy title triumph in the tournament's history, was pleased with his performance.

Disclosing the strategy he and Dhoni had chalked out for chasing the tough target, Raina said: "We had said whoever settles down first, would take charge. We planned to take six singles in each over."