Raina hails Dhoni and Kirsten after century heroics
Suresh Raina praised the influence of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten after he became only the third player to scored a Twenty20 international hundred. See specialUpdated: May 03, 2010 12:33 IST
Suresh Raina praised the influence of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten after he became only the third player to scored a Twenty20 international hundred.
Left-hander Raina's 101 was the cornerstone of India's 186 for five against South Africa in Gros Islet on Sunday.
In reply, the Proteas finished on 172 for five and India's 14-run win saw them into the second round after they opened their group campaign with a comfortable victory over Afghanistan here on Saturday.
Raina has tended to play second fiddle to the likes of Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh but here he was centre stage in joining West Indies captain Chris Gayle and New Zealand's Brendon McCullum as the only century-makers at this level.
Playing alongside Dhoni in the Indian Premier League appears to have been a real boon to Raina.
"Mahi (Dhoni) helped me a lot in the IPL," said Raina. "The senior players, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, have also supported me throughout.
"I've played five or six years of international cricket, it's important to fulfil the dreams they've had for me."
Raina though had an escape on five when he was caught off a Morne Morkel no-ball. But Kirsten, a former South Africa opening batsman, would have been proud of the way Raina made the most of his reprieve.
"Gary Kirsten told me when I practise, make sure your approach is correct."
Raina admitted he'd struggled early on. "I was not hitting the ball when I came in. I was thinking 'just rotate the strike' and when I get a loose ball just go for it.
Fast bowler Morkel's error was expensive, with Raina striking five sixes and nine fours in a blistering assault as he reached his century off 59 balls."
Meanwhile, South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his team had plenty to ponder ahead of their now decisive clash against rank outsiders Afghanistan in Barbados on Wednesday.
India struck a colossal 75 runs off the last five overs of their innings and Smith said: "We started well with the ball, 160 was par and we were on track for (conceding) that until Raina got hold of us at the back end.
"It was a terrific knock, he held the innings together. He played with great accuracy and power and he was able to exploit our lack of accuracy towards the back end, which played into his hands.
"I spoke before the game about little things and that no-ball proved to be costly for us in the end."
Smith added he and fellow senior batsman Jacques Kallis had made life tough on their team-mates lower down the order during the run chase.
"Myself and Jacques probably left it a bit late for the other guys. It was disappointing, when you are chasing a total and you end up 15 runs short of whatever it is and not all your guys get a chance to have a whack.
"We've definitely got to sharpen up before we play Afghanistan," said the left-handed batsman. "We've got some things to work on and to think about."